Under Iceland, a sunken continent the size of Australia has been discovered and dubbed ‘Icelandia.’


Under Iceland, a sunken continent the size of Australia has been discovered and dubbed ‘Icelandia.’

SCIENTISTS have uncovered a previously unknown continent beneath Iceland that could reach from Greenland to Europe.

Icelandia is estimated to cover 600,000 km2 by an international team of geologists, but when surrounding territories west of Britain are included in a ‘Greater Icelandia,’ the total area might be in the range of 1,000,000 km2 – an area larger than Australia.

According to scientists, the sub-aquatic terrain might reach from Greenland to Europe.

If confirmed, it suggests that Pangaea, the huge supercontinent that once covered the whole Earth’s landmass and is considered to have broken up about 50 million years ago, has not yet totally broken up.

The revelation also casts doubt on long-held scientific assumptions about the amount of oceanic and continental crust in the North Atlantic region, as well as the formation of volcanic islands like Iceland.

The presence of continental crust, rather than oceanic crust, may also prompt talks about a new source of minerals and hydrocarbons, both of which are found in continental crust.

Professor Gillian Foulger, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics in Durham University’s Department of Earth Sciences, led the research.

“Until recently, Iceland has perplexed geologists since prevailing hypotheses that it is built of, and surrounded by, oceanic crust are contradicted by different geological data,” Prof Foulger said.

“The crust beneath Iceland, for example, is nearly 40 kilometers thick, seven times thicker than regular oceanic crust. This could not possibly be explained.

“However, our findings suddenly made sense when we examined the idea that this thick crust is continental.

“This instantly led us to the conclusion that the continental region was far larger than Iceland itself – there is a secret continent beneath the sea.”

The study team is now collaborating with collaborators from all across the world to test their theory, which will begin as soon as Covid constraints allow.

Electrical conductivity surveys and the gathering of zircon crystals in Iceland and elsewhere could be part of this project.

Other tests, such as seismic profiling and drilling, would cost millions of pounds, but given the importance of this research, funding may be forthcoming.

“There is fantastic work to be done to verify the presence of Icelandia, but it also opens up an entirely new picture of our geological understanding of the world,” Prof Foulger concluded. It’s possible that something similar is going on in a lot of other places.

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