Earth and nature have managed to surprise humans once again with the discovery of a gigantic hidden continent buried under Southern Europe.
Millions of years ago, the 7 continents we know now existed as one – the supercontinent Pangea. Eventually land started drifting apart due to the movement of the Earth’s crust and mantle known as plate tectonics. It first divided into two, Laurasia which is now modern-day Europe, Asia, and North America, and Gondwana which is now Africa, Antarctica, South America, and Australia.
But just recently, scientists from Utrecht University have discovered that the earth’s plate tectonics once again caused a fifth continent to form from Gondwana. They called it Greater Adria.
The researchers who discovered Greater Adria had been studying the Mediterranean region and its complex geology for years before they declared the new continent. The Mediterranean region is composed of mountain ranges and seas that stretch for miles, it also hosts more than 30 countries which have their own geologies.
The research, found in the prestigious scientific journal Gondwana Research, was headed by Douwe van Hinsbergen, Professor of Global Tectonics and Paleogeography at Utrecht University. It found that Greater Adria has been lodged under Southern Europe for millions of years and it’s roughly the size of Greenland submerged underwater.
The study conducted found that during the continent’s migration, sedimentary rocks were scraped off and these now form the European mountain ranges in the Alps, Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans.
When Greater Adria separated from North Africa more than 200 million years ago during the Triassic period, a part of it remained visible on land. This is the strip that runs from Turin via the Adriatic Sea, an area known as Adria by geologists, hence the continent’s name.
Greater Adria in Turkey, Taurus Mountains
The remnant of Greater Adria could be seen in the overhanging limestone plate in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey. Its deepest is at 1,500 kilometers deep underneath Greece, says van Hinsbergen.
There’s a whole world under our feet
The Taurus Mountains in Turkey
Greater Adria wasn’t the only lost continent that researchers have found. In a CNN report, on January 2017, another continent which formed from supercontinent Gondwana was discovered and is now an island in the Indian Ocean, under Mauritius. A few months later, the lost continent of Zealandia was found through ocean drilling in the South Pacific.
The discovery of Greater Adria proves that there’s a lot we’ve yet to discover about our own planet. If something as huge as Greater Adria is under our feet, what more lies beneath?
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