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"...it's not every day you discover two large continental fragments on the ocean floor."
Just west of Australia, in the Indian Ocean, scientist have identified two large chunks of sunken rock -- once thought to be just part of the seabed -- as part of the ancient continent Gondwana.
Up until now, scientists pretty much only knew where these two plateaus were located and that combined they were the size of West Virginia, but a recent study that dredged samples from them found evidence that they were once continental, according to National Geographic. National Geographic continues with more details:
Rather than the normal basalt rock of most seabeds, the scientists pulled up chunks of granite, gneiss, and sandstone— rocks normally found on continents.
Some samples even contained fossils, said team member Joanne Whittaker, a marine geophysicist at the University of Sydney in Australia.
"It's quite clear that these two plateaus are little fragments of Gondwana left behind as India moved away from Australia," Whittaker said.
The Telegraph reports that these rocks being dated at up to 1 billion years old and states that they are currently being compared with rock compositions on Australia's west coast to verify the origin:
Similar matching was not possible with India because the relevant coast was now "smashed into the Himalayas somewhere," said Whittaker.
"It's very significant, it's not every day you discover two large continental fragments on the ocean floor," she said.
"Together with some of the other data this has the potential to change how we've been modelling that part of the world and that timeframe."
National Geographic also points out that the scientists found out that the plateaus, which they thought initially had flat tops, were actually composed of rolling hills. The types of fossils found were like those that would be found in shallow seabeds, like mollusks.
The researchers hope that further analysis of this site and the samples could shed light on the break up of Gondwana.
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