Geologists Have Found 'Lost Continent' of Argoland

Land that broke away from ancient Australia splintered into massive shards
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2023 9:30 AM CDT
'Lost Continent' That Broke Off From Australia Is Found
Scientists believe they now know what happened to Argoland.   (Getty / simonmayer)

Before you congratulate yourself on finding your lost keys, know that scientists have located an entire lost continent, piecing together a longstanding geological puzzle. Millions of years ago, a strip of western Australia broke off into a microcontinent known as Argoland due to shifting tectonic plates, IFL Science reports. After seven years of tracking what happened to that 3,107-mile-long stretch of land, geologists from Utrecht University say it broke off into shards, which are now embedded under land and sea. "The situation in Southeast Asia is very different from places like Africa and South America, where a continent broke neatly into two pieces," says author Eldert Advokaat. "Argoland splintered into many different shards."

The study published in the journal Gondwana Research observed the Argo Abyssal Plain off the northwest coast of Australia. The structure of that deep ocean basin signaled that Argoland moved upward, toward southeast Asia. But instead of one large land mass, the land split into what scientists are calling an "Argopelago." "We were literally dealing with islands of information, which is why our research took so long. We spent seven years putting the puzzle together," Advokaat says. Per a Utrecht University release at, some parts of Argoland are under sea level, while other pieces run underneath the jungles of Indonesia and Myanmar. It resembles submerged continents like Zeelandia, which lies east of Australia, and Greater Adria in southern Europe, which is now almost completely sunk into Earth's mantel.

"If continents can dive into the mantle and disappear entirely, without leaving a geological trace at the Earth's surface, then we wouldn't have much of an idea of what the Earth could have looked in the geological past," says Utrecht University geologist Douwe van Hinsbergen. "It would be almost impossible to create reliable reconstructions of former supercontinents and the Earth's geography in foregone eras." Studying the history of our shifting continents over time provides insight into how mountains were formed, how tectonic plates move, and how biodiversity and climate changes. (Read more geology stories).

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