The Indian Ocean, planet Earth’s third-largest oceanic division – representing 19.8% of all the water in our blue marble’s surface – has some of the most strikingly beautiful sights to be seen anywhere in the globe. None, arguably, as full of historical richness as the “lost continent” atop which the island of Mauritius sits.
In 2017, a paper published on Nature, by geologists Lewis D. Ashwal, Michael Wiedenbeck and Trond H. Torsvik postulated that the archipelago of Mauritius is actually hiding – or rather showing – underneath its crystal-clear waters, a gigantic piece of land that dates back a few billions years in our planet’s history, an ancient “lost continent” known as Mauricia. Mauricia is actually a small portion of Earth’s supercontinent of Gondwana, which broke off a few hundred million years ago, moulded by eons of time and tectonic activity until settling into the continents we love and know so well today.
If you are one of those who must see it to believe it, might I present you the stunning visual “proof” of Earth’s magnificent geological heritage, manifested in the unusual phenomenon of an underwater waterfall:
Off to the southwestern coast of the Le Morne Peninsula, even though this looks just like an underwater waterfall – as paradoxical as that may sound – what you see here is actually an illusion which can only be perceived from high up.
Deceivingly, the water is obviously not falling down an already watery abyss, but rather the sand is constantly moving down the steep oceanic trenches, giving off the illusion of a perpetual downwards movement, an optical aberration only heightened by the crystal clear waters of the stunning blue lagoon.
As the ancient supercontinent, Gondwanaland broke apart some 200 million years ago, it fractured into smaller fragments and sank beneath the ocean, burying within immeasurable archaeological wealth. The then-compressed and sunken land subsequently created massive underwater volcanoes, which, millions of years later, created Mauritius.
A truly memorable origin story, if you ask me!