Holy crap, did you hear the news on Tuesday? Atlantis, the largely apocryphal, long-lost sunken island first described in Plato’s dialogues (i.e. “stories”) as the doomed home of a highly advanced civilization circa 10,000 BC, has finally been discovered! Off the coast of Brazil! That’s not anywhere near Greece, so Plato couldn’t have possibly known about it, but hey! It seems that two years ago a team of Brazilian scientists dredged up some granite about 900 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, which got them giddy, and now they’ve seen some bad-ass formations in the same place while tooling around in a submersible with their Japanese colleagues. No artifacts, just rocks. They think it’s remnants from when Africa and South America split apart 100 million years ago! And this sounds like the home of a thriving human society… how?
Sounds more like just a rogue piece of South American continental crust. Many islands, like Hawaii and Iceland, are basaltic in composition, as minerals in oceanic crust are denser and made up of elements like iron and magnesium, whereas the less dense continental crust (which rises higher partly for that reason) is granitic, consisting of elements such as oxygen and silicon. Some larger islands like Greenland are granitic, as they’re just part of the continental shelf (the extended, lower elevation perimeter of a continent) that hasn’t been submerged.
Either way, they don’t sink! Islands don’t just sit there and float around the seven seas, like we once thought the continents pushed through oceanic crust as they moved, as in early continental drift proposals. A strange idea, akin to pushing a piece of paper through a wall, it was replaced in the 20th century by plate tectonics, that instead has both kinds of crust anchored to massive lithospheric plates that are pushed and pulled across the Earth’s surface by underlying differences in temperature. The edges of some plates are actually sucked into the Earth at subduction zones, like where the Pacific Plate plunges below the South American Plate, giving rise in a roundabout way to the Andes Mountains. That’s one way to get rid of a landmass, but you sure won’t find any remnants, and it’ll take a good goddamn long time. The Pacific Plate, to continue the example, currently moves at a rate of about 3 inches per year. Not exactly “a single day and night,” as Plato recounted.
Erosion can grind a peak down to size; but again, good goddamn long time. Although if it’s rising faster than the erosion rate, like Mount Everest is, your sinking hypothesis is sunk. Hawaii too keeps growing, thanks to its active volcanic origin. Landslides can chip away at the sides, but that still won’t unmoor an island. A far away landslide could cause a tsunami to wash away what’s on the surface, but one event, even such a powerful one, won’t smooth a landmass down to sea level. And if sea level itself rose to conceal something, my God, we’d fricking notice it everywhere! Not only would there be historical records, but we could read it in the marine rock deposits left behind.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
So if Atlantis is based on a probably fictional story the account of which bears no resemblance to this discovery, where did all these weird websites get their ideas? How does someplace called “DVICE” go from this:
Maybe because the FRIGGING SCIENTISTS BROUGHT IT UP THEMSELVES!
“This could be the Brazilian Atlantis. We are almost certain but we must bolster our hypothesis. We will have final (scientific) recognition this year when we conduct drilling in the area to retrieve more samples of these rocks.”
In a much less reported following statement, Geology Service of Brazil director Roberto Ventura Santos continued, “We speak of Atlantis more in terms of symbolism. Obviously, we don’t expect to find a lost city in the middle of the Atlantic.”
Come on. They knew exactly what they were doing. From Mauritia to the “Bimini Road” to the plains of Spain (at least that’s closer), media outlets desperate for eyeballs will use any chance to turn heads with woo-woo. These geologists played into it for reasons that aren’t totally clear. More exposure? Funding? To see something more colorful when they Google themselves? Whatever the motivation, it’s kind of messed up and unsettling that a group of scientists would willingly court crazy to get people’s attention. It’s not like there isn’t enough of it out there already without the good guys throwing them another bone to chew apart and spew back.