(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
A newly-discovered underwater shelf off the coast of Brazil could give scientists a deeper look into our Earth's history. A bed of granite and various other minerals has been dubbed the "Brazilian Atlantis," since its existence could be proof of a lost continent that was once part of Pangea, the massive supercontinent that broke into our present-day seven.
"This could be Brazil's Atlantis. We are almost certain but we need to strengthen this hypothesis," Director Roberto Ventura Santos from the Geology Service of Brazil said. "It is unusual because it is granite rock. And you don't find granite on the seabed. It is more usual to find it on the mainland."
The unusual granite bed lies more than 900 miles southeast of Rio de Janeiro and 8,000 feet underwater in a part of the ocean known as the Rio Grande Elevation. Other out-of-place minerals found inside the shelf included cobalt, manganese, and iron.
"When these samples came aboard the ship, the first surprise was, 'what are these rocks doing here?'" said Dr. Santos. "We did petrographic, geochemical (and) geological studies of this material."
"But if it is the case that we find a continent in the middle of the ocean, it will be a very big discovery that could have various implications in relation to the extension of the continental shelf," he continued.
The Geology Service of Brazil was aided by the Oceanographic Institute of the University of Sao Paulo and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. A Japanese Shinkai 6500 submarine was used to identify the granite bed, and dives of up to 21,000 feet were performed during the process.
The team plans on continuing their efforts to better understand the origin of the granite shelf. Further drilling is expected to commence later this year.
"We began to see that the area could be a piece of the continent that disappeared into the sea millions of years ago," Santos said. "We speak of Atlantis more in terms of symbolism. Obviously, we don't expect to find a lost city in the middle of the Atlantic.