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Traces of Lost Continent Found beneath Iceland

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Traces of Lost Continent Found beneath Iceland

Hamarsfjörður fjord.

From Southeast Iceland. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Scientists at the University of Oslo, led by geology professor Trond H. Torsvik, believe to have discovered traces of a lost continent in the rock around Öræfajökull, a Vatnajökull outlet glacier, in Southeast Iceland. The region may lie on top of the continent, which used to be part of Greenland, they reason.

“The Iceland hotspot is widely thought to be the surface expression of a deep mantle plume from the core-mantle boundary that can be traced back in time at least 62 My. However, some lavas contain continental material, which has previously been proposed to have been recycled through the plume,” Torsvik and his colleagues write in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“Here, we argue that the plume split off a sliver of continent from Greenland in the Early Eocene. This sliver is now located beneath southeast Iceland where it locally contaminates some of the plume-derived magmas,” they continue.

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