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Geologists discover lost continent Argoland 155 million years after it drifted away from Australia

The 5000 km long piece of continent got separated from the Western Australia and drifted away nearly 155 years ago.

Geologists discover lost continent Argoland 155 million years after it drifted away from Australia
Cover Image Source: YouTube/@UUGeosciences

History, to this date, is covered in layers of mystery. This mystery is so intriguing that every revelation takes humans aback. A recent addition to this list is Argoland, as reported by IFL Science. Researchers suggest that Argoland is a missing continent that 155 million years ago was attached to Western Australia. After so many years the continent has finally been found. This new finding will help researchers in making assumptions about what exactly happened to this piece of land after drifting away from Western Australia. It can shed some light on the geological history of various places and help experts map out how the earth came to be in its present shape.


Argoland was a large chunk of land in the ancient past. The reason it got broken off from Western Australia was because of plate tectonics. Plate tectonics is a theory that states how Earth's subterranean movements are the reason behind the formation of major landforms, as per National Geographic Society. The movements lead to land pieces that break apart to create small continents and also come together to form “supercontinents”. Even before the discovery of Argoland, scientists long suspected the presence of such a landform. But they had little idea about where the landform went after parting ways from its original position.

The break-off of Argoland in its wake left behind the Argo Abyssal Plain, a deep ocean basin. The seafloor below this basin indicated that the land must have drifted to the islands of Southeast Asia. On analyzing these islands, the researchers of Utrecht University found that the huge chunk of land was broken into small, continental fragments. The researchers began to look into the geology of Southeast Asia for further clues in regards to Argoland. They ended up creating a reconstructive model and collecting feedback data from several islands including Sumatra, Borneo and the Andaman Islands.


Their results indicated that Argoland, after parting ways, did not remain a coherent continent. 300 million years ago it began splintering, creating various fragments resulting in what the researchers termed “Argopelago.” “The situation in Southeast Asia is very different from places like Africa and South America, where a continent broke neatly into two pieces. Argoland splintered into many different shards,” explained Eldert Advokaat, one of the study’s authors, in a statement. Those fragments are now hidden beneath large parts of Indonesia and Myanmar, having arrived there around the same time.

The reason why it took experts so long to determine the fate of Argoland was because the splintering happened 215 million years ago. Due to the long duration, the landpieces had become intact, with no hint of their past within them. They appeared as their own entity, making scientists confused. “We were literally dealing with islands of information, which is why our research took so long. We spent seven years putting the puzzle together,” said Advokaat.


Even though the team had to pour in a lot of time and energy, they are glad they saw it through. Study author Douwe van Hinsbergen believes it is important to understand how 'lost continents' became 'lost.' He added, “Those reconstructions are vital for our understanding of processes like the evolution of biodiversity and climate, or for finding raw materials. And at a more fundamental level: for understanding how mountains are formed or for working out the driving forces behind plate tectonics; two phenomena that are closely related.” Other lost continents that have been recently found include Zealandia and Balkanatolia.


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