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Scientists discovered a lost continent 1,500 kilometres under Europe

Friday, September 20th 2019, 11:54 am - The discovery was made in one of the most geologically complex regions on Earth.

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A new study that analyzes the evolutionary history of the Mediterranean region, one of the most geologically complex regions on Earth, has found that there is a lost continent nearly 1,500 kilometres underneath Europe.

The scientists aimed to reconstruct the timeline of how mountain ranges, oceans, and continents formed and noticed that 240 million years ago a piece of continental crust the size of Greenland became separated from North Africa and plunged into the Earth's mantle underneath Southern Europe.

SEE ALSO: Tectonic plate splitting could pull Europe towards Canada

The only part of the continent that remains today is a relatively small section that runs along northern Italy through the Adriatic Sea to the most eastern tip of the country, and the study's principal researcher Douwe van Hinsbergen calls this hidden continent "Greater Adria."

The researchers say that the deformed remnants of the top few kilometres of the lost continent can still be seen in the mountain ranges. A press release from Utrecht University says "Forget Atlantis. Without realizing it, vast numbers of tourists spend their holiday each year on the lost continent of Greater Adria."

The study was recently published in Gondwana Research and finds that most of the mountain ranges there were analyzed originated from a single continent that separated from North Africa over 200 million years ago.

Scientists say that this Mediterranean region is so complex because many tectonic plates are "curved, broken, and stacked," whereas other regions, such as the Himalayas, which was created by two tectonic plates colliding with each other.

The researchers say that increased knowledge about mountain range formations allows for a greater understanding of earthquakes and volcanoes, which can be used to more accurately predict what an area will look like in the far future.

Sources: Utrecht University | Gondwana Research

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