PORT-LOUIS, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Scientists have discovered the existence of a micro-continent lying under the Mauritius and Reunion islands in the Indian Ocean, the Nature Geoscience magazine published on its website.
The researchers from Oslo, Liverpool and Witwatersrand universities said that the micro-continent which has been given the name, Mauritia, was formed about 60 million years ago when the current Madagascar landmass broke away from India.
The researchers presented their discovery in August 2012 to a scientific magazine which took five months to validate their findings.
The scientists explained that they studied the composition of sand in Mauritius. While the sand itself dated back to volcanic eruptions around 9 million years ago, they also found samples of the mineral zircon dating back to between 1,970 million and 660 million years ago.
The team of researchers concluded that such zircons must have been dragged up to the surface by geologically-recent lava flows, which suggests that Mauritia is indeed lying below the top-most crust in the region.
The team was able to show how various fragments drifted apart, and showed that certain fragments drifted over the volcanic hot- spots that created the island of Reunion, an indication that more fragments may exist in the region under the more recent lava flows.
The team of scientists concluded that at the moment, there's no evidence that there are more micro-continents in the Indian Ocean, but with further research, they are likely to be found.