Researchers discovered a continent hidden on Earth, but it is not Atlantis. They found it by reconstructing the evolution of the complex geology of the Mediterranean region, which rises with mountain ranges and plunges into seas from Spain to Iran.
The continent is called Grand Adria. It is the size of Greenland and separated from northern Africa, only to be buried under southern Europe about 140 million years ago.
And most likely you have been there without even knowing it.
The study was published this month in the journal Gondwana Research.
Investigating the evolution of mountain ranges can show the evolution of the continents. “Most of the mountain chains we investigated originated from a single continent that separated from North Africa over 200 million years ago”, said van Hinsbergen. “The only remaining part of this continent is a strip that runs from Turin through the Adriatic Sea to the heel of the boot that forms Italy.”
Geologists call this area Adria, so the researchers in this study refer to the previously undiscovered continent as Gran Adria.
In the Mediterranean region, geologists have a different understanding of plate tectonics. Plate tectonics is the theory behind how oceans and continents form, and for other parts of the Earth, that theory suggests that plates do not deform when they move together in areas with large faults.
But Turkey and the Mediterranean are completely different.
“It’s simply a geological disaster: everything is curved, broken and stacked”, said van Hinsbergen. “Compared to this, the Himalayas, for example, represents a fairly simple system. There you can follow several large faults over a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers”.
In the case of the Grand Adria, most of it was underwater, covered by shallow seas, coral reefs and sediments. The sediments formed rocks and those were scraped off like barnacles when the Grand Adria was forced under the mantle of southern Europe. Those discarded rocks became mountain ranges in these areas: the Alps, the Apennines, the Balkans, Greece and Turkey.