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A complex reconstructive model of geologic history showcases the previous existence of an ancient continent which has been called ‘Greater Adria’. The time-lapse re-creation, which spans the past 240 million years, depicts how the long-lost continent evolved over time, considering its tectonic history in extreme detail.

The team who conducted this latest study is said to have spent over a decade collecting information concerning the ages of rock samples thought to be from ‘Greater Adria’, thoroughly analysing the direction of any magnetic fields which were trapped in them. This allowed the researchers to identify both when and where the rocks were formed.

The ancient continent is thought to have been located near the Adriatic Sea and to have been similar in size to Greenland. An analysis of the continent’s demise is part of the recent report which highlights how the continent first separated from what is now Spain, southern France, and northern Africa, thus forming a separate landmass dubbed as ‘Greater Adria’ by researchers. The lost continent now lies submerged below Europe, largely below the continent’s southern regions; its only visible remnants are limestones and other rocks found in the mountain ranges across southern Europe.

To determine how the land mass broke away from the southern supercontinent of Gondwana, researchers sought to examine the surface remnants of ‘Greater Adria’, concluding that it spun anticlockwise as it moved north and eventually collided with what is now Europe, roughly 100 to 120 million years ago. Although the tectonic collision happened at speeds of a mere three to four centimetres on an average annual basis, it is believed the ‘inexorable smash-up shattered the 100-kilometre-thick bit of crust’, sending most of it deep within Earth’s mantle.

Applicants for Geography, particularly those with a keen interest in geology, can delve deeper into exploration on this topic, considering how this research sheds significant insight into tectonic plate movements over time and across the globe.

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