Scientists Find Lost Continent on Ocean Floor

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21 May 2013

It’s not quite Atlantis, but scientists believe they have discovered a lost continent on the ocean floor, just off the coast of Brazil.

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Steph Spencer

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Most days I am lucky to find my own house keys, or perhaps a bit of cash in some pocket on laundry day. Lo and behold, scientists think they have found a lost continent between the tectonic seatcushions.

It may not be the fabled continent of Atlantis replete with doomed cities, but a team of Brazilian and Japanese scientists believes it has found the remains of a lost continent on the ocean floor off the coast of Brazil.

The tip-off was the presence of granite, which is only found on land and not typically at the bottom of the sea. Roberto Ventura Santos of Brazil’s Geology Service and the researchers on his team have theorized that this indicates the landmass in question was once part of a continent but later became submerged when the supercontinent Pangaea split apart to form the continents and oceans we know today.

The team used a small submarine to dive as deep as 6,500 metres to retrieve the samples, which were found to consist of granite. As continental crust is usually made of lower-density rocks such as this, and the ocean floor much denser, the researchers came to the view that the samples they retrieved, and later analyzed in the lab, had once been part of a continent but later became submerged when the Atlantic Ocean was formed about 100 million years ago.

The opposing view put forth by Michael Wysession in this article on National Geographic is that the granite was put there when it was carried by large ice formations that deposited on the ocean floor as they melted. He argues that the seabed has been so extensively mapped by satellites that it’s improbable for anything big to remain undiscovered down there.

Steph Spencer

Steph Spencer is a freelance writer from Canada who escaped from the travel industry, which held her captive for over 14 years. An incurable smart aleck, notorious purple fanatic, hat person and ukulele player of questionable abilities, she explores the nerdy side of travel on her geektastic blog, A Nerd At Large.