Relics of "lost continents" hidden under Antarctica are revealed by satellite imagery



The European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed the remains of lost continents that have been hidden in Antarctica for millions of years.

Satellite imagery reveals the time axis of the old earthly masses, buried about 1.6 km below the icy continent, reports the Daily Mail.

Scientists have said that new lights are emerging on Antarctica, the "least understood continent on earth."

They used data from the long dead Gravity field and the Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), which fell into the country after the fall of 2013.

While the satellite is out of action for five years, scientists are still pouring over the boundaries of the data they gathered on Earth's gravitational pull.

The team of scientists used GOCE reading to map the movements of terrestrial tectonic plates under Antarctica.

Their research allowed them to observe hidden tectonic shifts in the last 200 million years, and offered new insights into how Antarctica originated.

"These gravitational images revolutionize our ability to study the least understood continent on Earth: Antarctica," said co-author Fausto Ferraccioli, a scientific director of geology and geophysics on British Antarctic Survey.

"In East Antarctica, we see an exciting mosaic of geological features that reveal the essential similarities and differences between the bark under Antarctica and other continents that they joined up to 160 million years ago."

Scientists combined reading GOCE with seismological data and created 3D maps of the Earth's lithosphere.

The lithosphere is made up of bark and molten casing beneath the Earth's surface, and includes mountain belts, oceanic barriers and rock zones called kratons.

Cratony are the remnants of ancient continents docked in the continents, as is known today.

The study has shown that Western Antarctica (green) has a thinner bark than Eastern Antarctica (blue), which has
The study has shown that Western Antarctica (green) has a thinner bark than Eastern Antarctica (blue), which has a "native form with Australia and India". Image / ESA

New reading revealed the breakdown of Gondwan, a long-gone "supercontinent" located in Antarctica.

While land divided 130 million years ago, the map shows that Antarctica and Australia have been linked 55 million years ago.

The study also showed that Western Antarctica has a thinner bark than Eastern Antarctica, which has "similarities with Australia and India".

Scientists hope to use their findings to explore how Antarctic influences the geology and continental melting structure of its ice.

GOCE scientist Roger Haagmans said: "It is interesting to see that the direct use of gravity gradients measured for the first time with GOCE leads to a new independent view within the Earth – even under a thick layer of ice.

"It also provides a link to how the continents were likely to be linked in the past before they moved away from the plate movement."


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