Scientists have recently discovered evidence of a lost continent known as Argoland buried under the ocean floor near Australia. Argoland was estimated to have been around 3,000 miles wide before it broke away from western Australia approximately 155 million years ago.
Dutch geologists detected traces of Argoland in the form of tectonic “mega-units” scattered across the ocean floor and embedded in Earth’s crust. These mega-units contain unique geological signatures that can be traced back to Australia from the time when the continents were joined together. By analyzing rock samples taken from the seafloor, researchers were able to determine that the mega-units were once part of the same continental crust as Australia before Argoland rifted away.
The evidence “shows that large fragments—mega-units—of the continental crust were ripped off from Western Australia about 155 million years ago,” said professor Dietmar Müller of Germany’s Center for Marine Environmental Sciences. “We were able to trace the origin and migration path of these mega-units with the help of magnetic striping in the oceanic crust.” According to a Yahoo article.
When Argoland broke apart from Australia, it began drifting northward across the ocean basin. Over millions of years, the ocean floor slowly swallowed up the continental fragments as the plates converged and subducted underneath one another. Today only small remnants of Argoland’s crust remain preserved in the geology of the seafloor.
The discovery of Argoland sheds new light on the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana around 100 million years ago. As Gondwana rifted into separate landmasses, large continental fragments like Argoland were carried away by plate tectonic forces, only to be buried beneath the sea over geological timescales. Finding evidence of this lost continent provides valuable clues about the evolution of Earth’s crust and the prehistoric geography of Australia.