Remnants of an ancient continent that stretched across Europe and broke apart 150 million years ago have been unearthed under Canada’s Baffin Island.
Geologists from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have stumbled upon part of a prehistoric continent that spanned from Scotland to Greenland over 150 million years ago.
The UBC researchers were exploring diamond deposits in Canada’s Nunavut territory before unknowingly digging up fragments of the land mass underneath Baffin Island.
The fragment is part of the North Atlantic Craton, which stretched across part of Europe.
A craton is a stable part of the Earth’s crust which has kept its shape over a long period of time.
The new findings suggest the continent is 10 per cent larger than previously thought, according to a report from CNN.
The discovery was entirely unrelated to what the UBC researchers were looking for: million-year-old rock samples of kimberlite that are up to 400km underground, which are eventually pushed up to the surface and sometimes contain diamonds.
For researchers, kimberlites are subterranean rockets that pick up passengers on their way to the surface,” University of British Columbia geologist May Kopylova said in a statement reflecting on the discovery.
“The mineral composition of other portions of the North Atlantic craton is so unique there was no mistaking it.
“Finding these ‘lost’ pieces is like finding a missing piece of a puzzle.
“The scientific puzzle of the ancient Earth can’t be complete without all of the pieces.”