Home Malta Winds Researchers discover long-lost continent beneath the Mediterranean

Researchers discover long-lost continent beneath the Mediterranean

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Researchers
have discovered a hidden continent on Earth, but it’s not Atlantis. They found
it while reconstructing the evolution of Mediterranean region’s complex
geology, which rises with mountain ranges and dips with seas from Spain to
Iran.

The
continent is called Greater Adria. It’s the size of Greenland and it broke off
from North Africa, only to be buried under Southern Europe about 140 million
years ago.

And chances
are, you’ve been there without even knowing it.

“Forget
Atlantis,” said Douwe van Hinsbergen, study author and professor of global
tectonics and paleogeography at Utrecht University. “Without realizing it,
vast numbers of tourists spend their holiday each year on the lost continent of
Greater Adria.”

The study
was published this month in the journal Gondwana Research.

Researching
the evolution of mountain ranges can show the evolution of continents.

“Most
mountain chains that we investigated originated from a single continent that
separated from North Africa more than 200 million years ago,” said van
Hinsbergen. “The only remaining part of this continent is a strip that
runs from Turin via the Adriatic Sea to the heel of the boot that forms
Italy.”

This area is
called Adria by geologists, so the researchers for this study refer to the
previously undiscovered continent as Greater Adria.

In the
Mediterranean region, geologists have a different understanding of plate
tectonics. Plate tectonics are the theory behind how oceans and continents
form, and for other parts of the Earth, that theory suggests that the plates
don’t deform when they move alongside each other in areas with large fault
lines.

But Turkey,
and the Mediterranean, is entirely different.

“It is
quite simply a geological mess: Everything is curved, broken and stacked,”
said van Hinsbergen. “Compared to this, the Himalayas, for example,
represent a rather simple system. There you can follow several large fault
lines across a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers.”

In the case
of Greater Adria, most of it was underwater, covered by shallow seas, coral
reefs and sediments. The sediments formed rocks and those were scraped off like
barnacles when Greater Adria was forced under the mantle of Southern Europe.
Those scrapped rocks became mountain ranges in these areas: the Alps, the
Apennines, the Balkans, Greece and Turkey.

“Subduction,
the plunging of one plate under the other, is the basic way in which mountain
chains are formed,” said Van Hinsbergen. “Our research provided a
large number of insights, also about volcanism and earthquakes, that we are
already applying elsewhere. You can even predict, to a certain extent, what a
given area will look like in the far future.”

Reconstructing
this evolutionary look at mountain ranges in the Mediterranean required
collaboration because it covers more than 30 countries, each with their own
geological survey, maps and pre-existing ideas about how things formed, the
researchers said.

Using plate
tectonic reconstruction software, the researchers literally peeled back layers
to go back in time when continents appeared much different from the map we know
today.

The
researchers found that Greater Adria started to become its own continent about
240 million years ago during the Triassic period.

“From
this mapping emerged the picture of Greater Adria, and several smaller
continental blocks too, which now form parts of Romania, North Turkey or
Armenia, for example,” said Van Hinsbergen. “The deformed remnants of
the top few kilometers of the lost continent can still be seen in the mountain
ranges. The rest of the piece of continental plate, which was about 100 km
thick, plunged under Southern Europe into the earth’s mantle, where we can still
trace it with seismic waves up to a depth of 1,500 kilometers.”

This isn’t
the first time a lost continent has been found.

In January
2017, researchers announced the discovery of a lost continent left over from
the supercontinent Gondwana, which began breaking apart 200 million years ago.
The leftover piece, which was covered in lava, is now under Mauritius, an
island in the Indian Ocean.

And in
September 2017, a different research team found the lost continent of Zealandia through
ocean drilling in the South Pacific. It’s two-thirds of a mile beneath the sea.

Greater Adria isn’t the first lost continent to be found. But if research in past years shows anything, it likely won’t be the last discovery.

source: cnn.com

The post Researchers discover long-lost continent beneath the Mediterranean appeared first on maltawinds.com.

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