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[Articles & News] Geologists uncover history of lost continent buried beneath Europe.

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Post time: 10-9-2019 10:52:02 Posted From Mobile Phone
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About 140 million years ago, Greater Adria—which later got shoved beneath southern Europe—was a Greenland-size landmass (submerged portions in gray-green) south of the continent.van Hinsbergenet al.,Gondwana Research(2019)
▼ Forget the legendary lost continent of Atlantis. Geologists have reconstructed, time slice by time slice, a nearly quarter-of-a-billion-year-long history of a vanished landmass that now lies submerged, not beneath an ocean somewhere, but largely below southern Europe.
The researchers’ analysis represents “a huge amount of work,” says Laurent Jolivet, a geologist at Sorbonne University in Paris who was not involved in the new study. Although the tectonic history of the landmass has been generally known for a few decades, he says, “[T]he amount of detail in the team’s systematic time-lapse reconstruction is unprecedented.”
The only visible remnants of the continent—known as Greater Adria—are limestones and other rocks found in the mountain ranges of southern Europe. Scientists believe these rocks started out as marine sediments and were later scraped off the landmass’s surface and lifted up through the collision of tectonic plates. Yet the size, shape, and history of the original landmass—much of which lay beneath shallow tropical seas for millions of years—have been tough to reconstruct.
For starters, Greater Adria had a violent, complicated history, notes Douwe van Hinsbergen, a geologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. It became a separate entity when it broke away from the southern supercontinent of Gondwana (which comprised what is today Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent, and the Arabian Peninsula) about 240 million years ago and started to move northward, scientists believe. About 140 million years ago, it was a Greenland-size landmass, largely submerged in a tropical sea, where sediments collected and slowly turned into rock. Then, as it collided with what is now Europe between 100 million and 120 million years ago, it shattered into pieces and was shoved beneath that continent. Only a fraction of Greater Adria’s rocks, scraped off in the collision, remained on Earth’s surface for geologists to discover.
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