The beaches of Mauritius surround the island like a foamy white trim and sprinkled in the sand are clues to a lost, submerged continent.
Ancient zircon crystals harvested from sand samples were found to be curiously older than the island itself. The island is only 8.9 million years old, but one of the hardy crystals dated back almost 2 billion years, and others are estimated to be at least 660 million years old.
Scientists who found the minerals explain that they belong to an ancient continent they have named "Mauritia" and estimate that there are chunks of it lying beneath the ocean and under the ocean floor between the land masses of India and Africa.
A team led by Björn Jamtveit from the University of Oslo surmises that the telltale zircons rose to the surface on columns of hot magma welling up from under the crust. They coated Mauritius — itself the product of a recent volcanic belch — and remained there until they were picked up, sorted and analyzed by the Norwegian crew.
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