Researchers discover Greater Adria, a hidden continent in the Mediterranean

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Reconstruction of Greater Adria, Africa and Europe, approximately 140 million years ago. (Van Hinsbergen et al., Gondwana Research (2019) Credit: Twitter Geowetenschappen UU @UUGeo


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RESEARCHERS have uncovered a continent the size of Greenland mostly hiding underwater in the Mediterranean.

The research was published in the scientific journal “Gondwana Research” earlier this month.

Scientists reconstructed the continent’s size and shape with advanced plate tectonic reconstruction software. They used “thousands of pieces of information” about fault lines, stored magnetism in rocks and other Earth movements to create the final image.

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The name “Greater Adria” was given to the lost continent by its founders at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

It is believed that the missing piece of continental crust seemingly separated from North Africa and lodged itself under Southern Europe. While most of the continent is underwater, much of the land mass’s sedimentary pieces were scraped off during its great migration. Those scrapings now make up European mountain belts, including parts of the Alps, Greece and Turkey.

Thus, as pointed out by Douwe van Hinsbergen, study author and professor of global tectonics and paleogeography at Utrecht University. “Without realizing it, vast numbers of tourists spend their holiday each year on the lost continent of Greater Adria.”

Geologists have a different understanding of plate tectonics when dealing with the Mediterranean region. Principally the plate tectonics theory suggests that the plates don’t deform when they move alongside each other in areas with large fault lines. But Turkey, and the Mediterranean, is entirely different.

The Utrecht professor Douwe van Hinsbergen has gone on to state:

“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.”

Van Hinsbergen believes that Greater Adria shifted from Africa more than 200 million years ago. The only part of Greater Adria still around its original location is a strip stretching through the Adriatic Sea. The spot connects Turin in Northern Italy to the heel of Italy’s boot-shaped southern land. Geologist refer to this area as Adria, leading researchers for this study to refer to the previously undiscovered continent as Greater Adria.

Remnants of the lost continent can be seen in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey.

This isn’t the first time a lost continent has been found.

In January 2017, researchers announced the discovery of a lost continent left over from the supercontinent Gondwana, which began breaking apart 200 million years ago. The leftover piece, which was covered in lava, is now under Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean.

And in September 2017, a different research team found the lost continent of Zealandia through ocean drilling in the South Pacific. At a depth of two-thirds of a mile beneath the sea.


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