Argoland, a lost continent separated from Australia tens of millions of years ago, has been found. Dutch scientists analyzed the geology of the islands of Southeast Asia, based on which they managed to find fragments of the mysterious land.
About 155 million years ago, a fragment of the continent broke away from Western Australia, leaving behind an ocean basin, and then floated away. The structure of the seafloor shows that the land mass drifted northwestward to where the islands of Southeast Asia are today. However, there is no continent beneath them, but only small pieces of land mass surrounded by older ocean basins. Unlike other lost continents, it is therefore not simply hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.
So what happened to the lost continent called Argoland? Geologists from the University of Utrecht managed to reconstruct the history of the mysterious land, and the results of their research were published in the scientific journal “Gondwana Research”.
To find out the fate of Argoland, scientists decided to analyze the geology of Southeast Asia. Geologists conducted field work on several islands, including Sumatra, Andaman, Borneo, Sulawesi and Timor, to determine the age of key rock layers. This was not easy because that region of the world is very different from places like Africa or South America, where the continent has split in two. In the case of Argoland, there were many more fragments.
– We were dealing with islands of information, which is why our research took so long. We spent seven years putting the puzzle together, said Eldert Advokaat, co-author of the study.
Scientists were able to determine which pieces of land arrived at their current locations around the same time. By combining the shards, they reconstructed the history of the continent they came from. As it turned out, the lost land is hidden under the jungles of large parts of Indonesia and Myanmar.
Tectonic plates and evolution
The fragmentation of the land is not surprising – as researchers explained, Argoland was never a single, clearly separated and coherent continent, but rather an “archipelago”, composed of smaller parts separated by older ocean basins.
The location of fragments of Argoland allows you to logically connect the neighboring geological systems of the Himalayas and the Philippines, but not only that. As Douwe van Hinsbergen, co-author of the analysis, explained, the study of lost land masses provides us with important information about the Earth’s geological past.
– These reconstructions are crucial for our understanding of processes such as the evolution of biodiversity and climate, and for the search for natural resources. At a fundamental level, they help us understand how mountains are formed and the forces that drive plate tectonics, two phenomena that are closely related, the scientist said.
Main photo source: Shutterstock