First mentioned in two dialogues (Timaeus and Critias) by Plato in 360 BC, the legendary island of Atlantis has long been sought by historians, archaeologists, and explorers alike. Said to have originally existed between South America and Africa, this sunken island has been searched for in no less than dozens of locations worldwide, from Bimini to the Black Sea.
In a new twist, a team of scientists from Brazil and Japan say they have discovered their version of Atlantis, or at least an ancient piece of granite that was part of a continent that disappeared nearly a hundred million years ago when Africa and South America separated.
|Where scientists claim is the `Brazilian Atlantis`|
The researchers discovered the granite artifact more than 8,000 feet deep in a region known as the Rio Grande Elevation, about 900 miles of the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The team said the granite is a natural formation that normally forms on dry land, which would offer evidence that the region was once above sea level.
The discovery was announced by the Geology Service of Brazil (CPRM) as a sign of a lost continent.
“This could be Brazil’s Atlantis,” said CPRM geology director Roberto Ventura Santos. “We are almost certain, but we need to strengthen this hypothesis.”
“It is unusual because it is granite rock,” he added. “And you don’t find granite on the seabed.”
The initial granite formation was discovered last year during seabed dredging by geologists. Just last month Japan offered undersea observations with its manned mini-sub Shinkai 6500 and reportedly found more granite formations.
Hiroshi Kitazato, the Japanese researcher who led the work for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), said in an interview with The Telegraph that the region was of interest to researchers.
“This is the region that has been least explored worldwide,” he told the paper’s Donna Bowater. “So, we believe it is very important to research it. Previously, the Shinkai carried out expeditions closer to Japan, the Indian and the Pacific Ocean.”
The current theory on the granite formations is that the area was once a large island or more likely part of the continental crust, in part because the materials uncovered are much different than the surrounding seabed. However, the researchers said further testing and analysis will be needed to make a solid confirmation. The scientists plan to drill for more samples later this year after they can gather geological and biological data from the samples they collected so far.
Although Santos has called the finding a piece of the “Brazilian Atlantis,” he explained that the remark is “more in terms of symbolism… Obviously, we don’t expect to find a lost city in the middle of the Atlantic.”
“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 told The Telegraph.
The research has been carried out by the Brazilian Geological Service, the Oceanographic Institute of the University of Sao Paulo and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, which operated the Shinkai 6500 research sub.