Iceland could be the tip of a submerged continent

The theory would explain the characteristics of the area's ocean floor. The nation would be a remnant of a territory the size of Texas, called Icelandia, that sank in the Atlantic Ocean 10 million years ago

Iceland would be the tip of an ancient continent that was submerged 10 million years ago by the Atlantic Ocean. The territory, called Icelandia, would have been the size of Texas, and the theory of geophysicists and geologists would explain both the geological features of the ocean floor and why the crust beneath the nation is much thicker than it should be. The insight is contrary to old assumptions about the date of Iceland's formation and the North Atlantic, and some experts outside the research still remain skeptical of this new theory. According to the study's lead author, Gillian Foulger, "the region extended from Greenland to Scandinavia."

The theory about Iceland being part of a submerged continent

The North Atlantic region, from 335 million to 175 million years ago, was completely dry and made up the super continent Pangaea. Geologists have long believed that the North Atlantic Ocean basin formed when Pangaea began to break up 200 million years ago and that Iceland formed about 60 million years ago above a volcanic plume near the center of the ocean. Instead, Foulger and his co-authors suggest a different theory: that the oceans began forming south and north, but not west and east, of Iceland when Pangaea melted and that these areas remained connected to what are now Greenland and Scandinavia.

Pangaea therefore would not have split cleanly and the lost continent of Iceland would have remained as an unbroken strip of land at least 300 kilometers wide that remained above ground until about 10 million years ago. The theory would explain why the crustal rocks beneath modern Iceland are about 25 miles (40 kilometers) thick instead of about 5 miles (8 kilometers), which would be expected if the nation had formed on a volcanic plume, the geologists who authored the research said.

"When we considered the possibility that this thick crust was continental, our data suddenly made sense," Foulger said in a note. "This immediately led us to realize that the continental region was much larger than Iceland itself: there's a continent hidden right there under the sea." Foulger and his colleagues estimated that Iceland once spanned more than 230,000 square miles (600,000 square kilometers) of land between Greenland and Scandinavia, an area somewhat smaller than Texas. However, researchers have yet to find any evidence of animal fossils from the lost continent.

The Antarctic terrain is rich in information about the formation of the continents and the Earth and is the subject of much research and observation. A team of international scientists has, for example, discovered that a huge Antarctic lake has mysteriously disappeared.

Stefania Bernardini