Planet Earth is a breathing, living thing. It has undergone changes that humans have never witnessed. And one of the major changes that our planet has gone through is the disappearances of some of its landmasses. The following are the major disappearances that are known today. Some happened millions of years ago while there are a couple of land masses that submerged underwater in recent centuries. One of these may, in fact, rise again in our time.
When you see a world map and check out the southeastern part of Aisa, you will notice that it is peppered with islands. But during the last Ice Age, when sea levels were much lower, these islands were connected. The whole landmass was called Sunda. Sundaland included the large islands of Sumatra, Borneo, Java, the Malay Peninsula, and other islands near them. Sundaland was an extension of the whole of Asia. The islands prominent now are what’s left of Sundaland. The rest vanished because of the flooding of the Sunda shelf. It is believed that there were people all across Sundaland as early as 50,000 years ago.
Zealandia was more than just an extension of a continent that vanished. Zealandia was a continent itself. It is also known as Tasmantis or the New Zealand Continent. Zealandia is now submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. It is believed that this took place about 23 million years ago. Around 60 to 85 million years ago, this continent broke away from Australia. According to scientists, the whole continent was half the size of Australia and was larger than Greenland or India. Not all of Zealandia is underwater, though. New Zealand, a part of this continent, is above sea level.
3. Kerguelen Plateau
Kerguelen is another landmass, most of which is no longer visible above sea level today. This microcontinent is located about 3,000 kilometers to the southwest of Australia. This submerged land is composed of volcanic ranges. There are, however, small parts of the plateau that can be found above sea level. These are the Kerguelen Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands. It is believed that Kerguelen sank about 20 million years ago. Today, most of the microcontinent is 1 to 2 kilometers below sea level.
When you talk about lands that are now underwater, the Beringia is most likely the one that the average man will recognize. Beringia was a land bridge that connected Alaska and the eastern part of Siberia. This land was above sea level during the Pleistocene ice ages. During this era, it is believed that the Bering land bridge submerged and rose above sea level many times. This land bridge is most likely the way through which early humans migrated to the Americas. In other words, this submerged land bridge played a significant role in the present state of the world.
A very, very long time ago, the island of Great Britain was connected to mainland Europe. Road trips would certainly be easier if this is still true today, wouldn’t they? Unfortunately, we have the rising sea levels to blame for the disappearance of this landmass. Doggerland is believed to have submerged after the end of the last glacial period of the current ice age. Doggerland was a large area of dry land. It stretched from the east coast of Britain to present coast of Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and Denmark. It is believed that Doggerland was inhabited by people during the Mesolithic period.
6. Maui Nui
Maui Nui was a Hawaiian island that is believed to have been above sea level around 1.2 million years ago. This island was built from shield volcanoes. During ice ages, the island was visible because of lower sea levels. It was 14,600 square kilometers in size and was 50% bigger than Hawaii today. Eventually, though, erosion and the flooding of the saddles between the volcanoes of the islands submerged most of Maui Nui. What remains of the great island is Maui County today.
7. Persian Gulf
The land beneath the Persian Gulf is fertile and has been recently postulated to be the home of early humans. In fact, researchers are saying that this land was a host to an early human civilization. This submerged landmass is currently called the Persian Gulf Oasis. It is believed that this oasis was home to early humans for more than 100,000 years. Around 8,000 years ago, though, the Indian Ocean rose, swallowing up most of the fertile landmass and resulting to the creation of present-day Persian Gulf.
This is a land mass that vanished under the sea just very recently. Jordsand was a small island in the Wadden Sea. It was a “hallig” or an island that has no protective dikes. It’s former name was Deer Island because there used to be deer in the said landmass. In 1231, records stated that the island was 20 square kilometers or around 2000 hectares in size. In 1807, the island’s recorded size was down to 40.7 hectares. In 1873, it was down to 18.4 hectares. Before the turn of the 18th century, the last village in the island was destroyed by a storm. It was later abandoned. By the winter of 1998, the island has completely submerged under the sea.
This is another volcanic island that is no longer visible above sea level. The last time that it rose above sea level was in 1831. It submerged again in 1832. This pattern of submerging and rising is brought about by its eruptions. When it erupts, its grows to the point where its top become visible above sea level. But due to erosion, Ferdinandea goes under the water again. The last time it was seen, in 1831, it caused a sovereignty dispute between four nations. This dispute was still ongoing when the volcanic island submerged underwater again the following year. Today, it remains 6 meters below sea level.
10. Sarah Anne Island
What we have here is a case of “now you see it, now you don’t”. Sarah Anne Island was discovered in 1858. Under the Guano Islands Act, the island was claimed by an American guano firm. It’s recorded location was south of Honolulu and northwest of Easter Island. In 1932, German astronomers searched for the island but they were not successful. Five years later, another unsuccessful search took place. This was baffling because there were records that the island was visible just 15 years before. Since it was no longer possible to locate the island, it was removed from naval charts.