The remains of an ancient continent have been found beneath southern Europe. The history of this territory has been rebuilt 250 million years after disappearing by a team of geologists from the universities of Utrecht, Oslo and the ETH Geophysics Institute in Zurich.
The only visible remains of that lost continent, known as Gran Adria, are the limestone rocks located in the mountain ranges of southern Europe. The researchers, who have just published their work in the journal Gondwana Research, believe that these rocks began their existence as marine sediments to later be “scraped” from the surface of the earth’s crust and elevated to their current positions thanks to the collisions of Tectonic plates For that reason, both the original size and the shape and history of that missing land mass has been very difficult to rebuild.
In the article, Douwe van Hinsbergen, from the University of Utrecht and participant in the research, points out that Grand Adria was a landmass the size of Greenland, which had a “violent and complicated” history. It is believed that it separated from the south of the supercontinent Gondwana, which comprised what is now Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula, about 240 million years ago. And from that moment he began to move north.
Later, between 100 and 120 million years ago, he collided with what is now Europe, breaking into pieces and being pushed under the old continent. Only a small part of Gran Adria’s rocks, torn from the earth’s crust during the collision, managed to remain on Earth’s surface so that geologists could discover them just now.
These rocks of Gran Adria are scattered throughout more than 30 countries, from Spain and Portugal to Iran.
The research to carry out his study has been complicated and very extensive over time. The team of researchers spent 10 years collecting information on the ages of the Gran Adria rock samples, as well as the direction of the magnetic fields trapped in them. With all these data, they managed to identify not only when, but where those rocks had formed, which is just below the south of the European continent.