Science/Tech

Is There A Continent Hidden Under Europe?

Going back through time and studying the long, varied history of our planet brings about many surprises. After all, looking through history shows that it wasn’t that long ago when we first discovered giant lizard-like animals called dinosaurs once roamed the Earth, or that during the same time, there are also other weird animals such as giant insects and herbivorous crocodiles.

It also wasn’t that long ago when we discovered that the Earth used to have one large slab of land called Pangaea, where modern-day continents came from. And now, new research has revealed another stellar find: beneath southern Europe is a lost continent, and scientists have managed to make the most detailed reconstruction of it yet.

Hidden Continent

According to researchers, the continent called “Greater Adria” first emerged some 240 million years ago, and is originally a part of Gondwana. Per experts, much like Pangaea, Gondwana was a supercontinent composed of Australia, South America, Antarctica, Africa and other major landmasses.

As research shows, Greater Adria was a large continent, going from Alps all the way to modern day Iran. However, because not all of it was on land, the continent most likely looked like a string of archipelagos.

“It would have been a good scuba diving region,” Douwe van Hinsbergen, lead author and the chair in global tectonics and paleogeography in the Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said.

According to Hinsbergen and his team, the mountain belts where they found the Greater Adrian rocks that they collected and analyzed spans around 30 different countries.

Continental Escape

Some 100 to 200 million years ago, Greater Adria apparently smashed into the continent of Europe. However, instead of connecting to each other, the supercontinent just slid beneath Europe, and some of its rocks were “scraped off,” making mountain chains such as the modern day Alps. Today, Hinsbergen and his team are studying these rocks that have been locked into place, giving them an insight about the supercontinent sitting below Europe.

"All the bits and pieces are jumbled up and I spent the last 10 years making the puzzle again,” Hinsbergen said. By using this data, the team was then able to recreate a detailed model of the old supercontinent.

Earth's airglow is seen with an oblique view of the Mediterranean Sea area, including the Nile River with its delta and the Sinai Peninsula, in this October 15, 2011 NASA handout photograph taken by a crew member of Expedition 29 aboard the International Earth's airglow is seen with an oblique view of the Mediterranean Sea area, including the Nile River with its delta and the Sinai Peninsula, in this October 15, 2011 NASA handout photograph taken by a crew member of Expedition 29 aboard the International Space Station. Some areas of the photo like the river and river delta appear as the brightest areas because of either man-made lighting (mostly incandescent) or man-made lighting reflected off nearby surfaces. The other areas appear to be illuminated naturally by moonlight, starlight, or back-scattered light from the atmosphere, according to NASA. Picture taken October 15, 2011. NASA/Reuters

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