source : allthatsinteresting.com
The continent known as Argoland broke off from northwestern Australia 155 million years ago.
New research may have just solved the 155-million-year-old mystery of what happened to a small, lost continent that once separated from northwestern Australia.
Scientists have suspected for some time that this landmass, known as Argoland, broke away from the Australian continent, thanks to evidence of a deep ocean void off Australia’s northwest coast. But then the trail turned cold.
What happened to Argoland, and where it went, have proven to be elusive questions until recently.
Argoland differed from a typical continent when it first broke away from Australia. For example, India was once connected to the ancient supercontinent Gondwana 120 million years ago, but of course still exists in more or less the same form.
Argoland, on the other hand, fell apart as soon as it broke free, and its pieces scattered all over the world. Until now, researchers could only wonder where all those pieces had gone.
“We knew it had to be somewhere north of Australia, so we expected to find it in Southeast Asia,” said Eldert Advokaat, a researcher at Utrecth University in the Netherlands and lead author of the new study. Living Science.
Their study, published in the journal Gondwana research, outlines how Advokaat and his colleagues worked backwards to reconstruct Argoland’s centuries-old journey.
They knew that the fragments of Argoland had drifted north after the destruction, and so they began their search again, this time starting at the end of the journey of the lost continent in Southeast Asia.
Here they discovered traces of the continent through tectonic ‘mega-units’ scattered across the ocean floor. This also revealed the presence of the remains of small oceans that had formed about 200 million years ago, which researchers believe were created when tectonic forces moved the Earth and eventually caused Argoland to split and break off.
According to a press release, the remains of the once 5,000-kilometer-long continent were “hidden beneath the green jungles of large parts of Indonesia and Myanmar.”
“That process takes 50 to 60 million years, and about 155 million years ago that whole collage of these ribbon continents and intermediate oceans started to drift over into Southeast Asia,” Advokaat said. “We have not lost a continent; it was simply already a very extensive and fragmented ensemble.”
A similar process also happened to several other lost continents throughout history, including Zealandia, also near Australia, and Greater Adria, which was once in the Mediterranean Sea.
Humanity has, of course, long been fascinated by the idea of lost continents – the best-known example being the so-called lost continent of Atlantis, first mentioned by the philosopher and mathematician Plato. Others have theorized about the mythical lost continents of Lemuria and Mu, which were said to be lands full of ancient secrets and treasures.
But there is also a very real scientific reason why scientists would want to find and explore ancient lost continents.
As study co-author Douwe van Hinsbergen said, observing the life and death of continents is “critical for our understanding of processes such as the evolution of biodiversity and climate, or for finding raw materials. And on a more fundamental level: to understand how mountains are formed or to discover the driving forces behind plate tectonics.”
When chunks of Argoland collided with the ancient landmass that became Southeast Asia, the biological landscape changed, contributing to the rich biodiversity of the region today.
While the team didn’t discover any ancient lost civilizations or human-lemur hybrids, this new research ultimately provides a whole host of useful information that could guide future research into how our planet came to be – and how it might change in the future .
After hearing about this fascinating new research, read about Zealandia, the lost continent that sank beneath New Zealand. Or learn all about Greater Adria, the lost continent buried beneath Europe.
source : allthatsinteresting.com