Scientists Have Discovered A Lost '8th Continent', Hidden 1,000 Miles Under Europe

Scientists Have Discovered A Lost '8th Continent', Hidden 1,000 Miles Under Europe

The incredible discovery was made while geologists were reconstructing the evolution of the Mediterranean region's complex geology. And no, it is not Atlantis.

The search for Atlantis may not bear fruit any time soon, but researchers have discovered another hidden continent on our planet. The incredible discovery was made while they were reconstructing the evolution of the Mediterranean region's complex geology. The newly discovered continent has been named Greater Adria and is said to be the size of Greenland. The landmass reportedly broke off from North Africa and ended up buried under Southern Europe about 140 million years ago. Crazy thing is, some of us may have even been to this continent without realizing it.



Speaking to CNN, Douwe van Hinsbergen, study author and professor of global tectonics and paleogeography at Utrecht University, said, "Forget Atlantis. Without realizing it, vast numbers of tourists spend their holiday each year on the lost continent of Greater Adria." Studying the evolution of mountain ranges has been found to be helpful in learning about the evolution of continents. "Most mountain chains that we investigated originated from a single continent that separated from North Africa more than 200 million years ago. The only remaining part of this continent is a strip that runs from Turin via the Adriatic Sea to the heel of the boot that forms Italy," said van Hinsbergen.



Since geologists refer to this area as Adria, the researchers for this study—published in the journal Gondwana Research earlier this year—have chosen to call the previously undiscovered continent Greater Adria. When it comes to the Mediterranean region, geologists have a different understanding of plate tectonics, the study of how oceans and continents were formed. While in other parts of the earth, the theory suggests that the plates don't deform when moving alongside each other in areas with large fault lines, in the case of Turkey, and the Mediterranean, things are completely different.



"It is quite simply a geological mess: Everything is curved, broken and stacked. Compared to this, the Himalayas, for example, represent a rather simple system. There you can follow several large fault lines across a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers," said van Hinsbergen. In Greater Adria's case, most of the continent was underwater, covered by shallow seas, coral reefs, and sediments. The sediments formed rocks and when Greater Adria was forced under the mantle of Southern Europe, these rocks were scraped off like barnacles. These then became mountain ranges in areas like the Alps, the Apennines, the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey.



"Subduction, the plunging of one plate under the other, is the basic way in which mountain chains are formed. Our research provided a large number of insights, also about volcanism and earthquakes, that we are already applying elsewhere. You can even predict, to a certain extent, what a given area will look like in the far future," said van Hinsbergen. Researchers revealed that reconstructing this evolutionary look at mountain ranges in the Mediterranean was only possible through collaboration as it covers over 30 countries, each with their own geological survey, maps, and pre-existing ideas about how things formed.



Researchers used plate tectonic reconstruction software to literally peel back layers of the earth to go back in time when continents appeared much different from what they are today. Greater Adria began becoming its own continent about 240 million years ago during the Triassic period. "From this mapping emerged the picture of Greater Adria, and several smaller continental blocks too, which now form parts of Romania, North Turkey or Armenia, for example. The deformed remnants of the top few kilometers of the lost continent can still be seen in the mountain ranges. The rest of the piece of continental plate, which was about 100 km thick, plunged under Southern Europe into the earth's mantle, where we can still trace it with seismic waves up to a depth of 1,500 kilometers," said van Hinsbergen.


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