Piece of lost continent discovered underneath Canada

So, it turns out researchers recently uncovered a lost continent. What's more, said discovery appears to include diamonds. If you think that sounds like the beginning of a 1930s pulp novel, you're not wrong. However, if you think the reality of the situation is like a 1930 pulp novel, prepare to be sorely disappointed. Atlantis hasn't actually popped up from the abyss to make us all rich. As Mindy Weisberger of Live Science tells us, the new discovery is actually "just" a relatively small fragment of an ancient proto-continent, buried deep within Canada. 

According to a new study by the University of British Columbia, the new discovery lies some 250 miles deep under Baffin Island. Samples of a "diamond-bearing volcanic rock" called kimberlite have revealed that the mineral chemistry of the area means that it's likely a piece of a long-lost continent called ... North Atlantic craton. Yeah, we know. Look, they can't all have cool names like Laurasia, all right?

The creation of cratons

Back when the Earth was still young and prone to kickin' about, continents came and went. The first huge landmasses to form were called cratons, and they were basically giant slabs of rock that existed for a time, then broke down as the planet reshuffled the deck and reformed them as new supercontinents. This happened over and over again, and plate tectonics were having a ball for hundreds of millions of years. Eventually, things started to calm down, and around 60 million years ago, the last supercontinent — Pangaea — had broken down to our current batch of continents. 

The piece of the North Atlantic craton discovered under Boffin Island is not the first time geologists encounter the ancient continent. Bits and pieces of it have been discovered in Greenland, Scotland, and Labrador, which is also in Canada. However, this one's particularly exciting, because it's far and away the deepest one they have discovered; the other ones have been in comparatively shallow depths of 0.6 to 6 miles.