Scientists have found a missing piece of Earth that has been missing for about 155 million years. The fragmented continent, called Argolandia, separated from and moved away from the Australian continent in geological time. The revelation came to light thanks to a large oceanic hole known as the Argo Abyssal Plain, which indicates the existence of this piece.
- Previously, one theory speculated that Argolandia was being pulled back into the Earth’s mantle, the molten layer beneath the crust where tectonic plates collide and break apart.
- This phenomenon occurred with another “lost” geological entity, the Greater Adria region, which was once the size of Greenland and was later separated from Italy.
- However, Greater Adria left evidence of its presence in the rock layers that later became the mountains of southern Europe, while Argoland showed no similar traces in the mountains of Southeast Asia.
The “lost” plot of land.
Recently, a team of researchers discovered fragments of the Argoland continent hidden under several islands in the region, suggesting that it fragmented as it moved away, rather than moving as a single mass. This discovery was published in the scientific journal Gondwana research Last Thursday (19).
If the continents could sink into the mantle and disappear completely, without leaving any geological traces on the Earth’s surface, we would have little idea what the Earth was like in the geological past. It would be almost impossible to create reliable reconstructions of ancient supercontinents and the geography of the Earth in past eras.
Douwe van Hinsbergen, professor at Utrecht University and co-author of the study
To reach these conclusions, scientists excavated layers of rock on the islands of Southeast Asia, including Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi and Timor. They also performed computer simulations of tectonic and continental movements, which supported their findings.
The results suggest that about 250 million years ago, Argoland began to crack and break apart, and its fragments are now hidden deep in the ocean, under thousands of islands in the region.
Eldert Advocaat, the study’s lead author, described the work as a real puzzle, saying: “We were literally dealing with islands of information, which is why our research took so long. We spent seven years solving the puzzle.”
The discovery of these argolandic fragments fits perfectly between the geological systems neighboring the Himalayas and the Philippines, adding another piece to the complex story of the evolution of Earth’s continents. About 230 million years ago, when dinosaurs began to inhabit the planet, the continents were united into a supercontinent called Pangea. Over time, Pangea split apart, giving rise to the diverse world we know today.
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