The continent is called Grand Adria. It is the size of Greenland and broke away from North Africa only to be buried under Southern Europe about 140 million years ago.
And chances are you were there without even knowing.
In the Mediterranean region, geologists have a different understanding of plate tectonics. Slab tectonics is the theory of how the oceans and continents form, and for other parts of the Earth, this theory assumes that slabs do not deform when moving side by side in areas with large fracture lines.
But Turkey and the Mediterranean are completely different.
"It's just just a geological mess: Everything is twisted, broken and tidy," van Hinsbergen said. "In comparison, the Himalayas, for example, are a fairly simple system. There you can follow several large fault lines over a distance of more than 2000 kilometers. "
In the case of Grand Adria, most of it was underwater, covered by shallow seas, coral reefs and sediments. The sediments formed rocks, and these were scraped as barracks when Grand Adria was forced under the mantle of Southern Europe. These discarded rocks became mountain ranges in these areas: the Alps, the Apennines, the Balkans, Greece and Turkey.
"Subduction, pushing one plate under the other, is the main way in which mountain ranges are formed," Van Hinsbergen said. "Our studies have provided a large number of studies, also on volcanism and earthquakes, which we are already applying elsewhere. You can even predict to some extent what an area will look like in the distant future."
Reconstructing this evolutionary view of the Mediterranean mountain ranges requires collaboration, as it spans more than 30 countries, each with its own geological survey, maps and existing ideas on how things were formed, the researchers say.
Using tectonic plate restoration software, researchers literally peeled back layers to go back to a time when continents appeared much different than the map we know today.
Researchers find that the Great Adria began to develop on its own continent about 240 million years ago during the Triassic period.
"From this mapping, a picture emerged of Greater Adria and several smaller continental blocks that now form parts of Romania, northern Turkey or Armenia," Van Hinsbergen said. "The deformed remains of the upper few kilometers of the lost continent can still be seen in the mountain ranges. The rest of the continental plate, about 100 km thick, sinks below Southern Europe into the earth's mantle, where we can still trace it with seismic waves to a depth of 1500 kilometers. "
This is not the first time a lost continent has been discovered.
Greater Adria is not the first open continent.