The Azores Microplate; a small area of continental rock, about the size of Ireland, underlying the Azores Archipelago. The size and shape of the microplate (triangular) corresponds almost exactly with the description of the island of Atlantis as given by Plato.

The precise location of Atlantis, the legendary sunken island, is not and never has been, a mystery. Yet to judge from theories contained in the plethora of books, articles and documentaries that appear every year by the thousand, one would imagine that it was. Plato, our earliest and most comprehensive source, makes it very clear that the island of Atlantis (whose dimensions make it about the size of Ireland) was "in front of" the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar). In front of must mean due west, so that the lost island can only have been situated in the region of the Azores, a small volcanic archipelago about 1200 miles west of Gibraltar.

In view of the very clear location given by Plato, why is it that over the past fifty years researchers have looked almost everywhere except where he placed it? The answer to that question is straightforward: According to "expert" opinion, as stated in countless textbooks, encyclopedias and dictionaries, the region of the Azores, though volcanic, could not possibly have ever harbored a large island. In this "expert" summation, the Azores, as part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, are actually rising from the ocean, and the small islands which comprise the archipelago are larger now than they have ever been. In short, the Azores and the surrounding seafloor are composed entirely of relatively new volcanic rock, and the islands of the archipelago have only recently, in geological terms, risen from the ocean floor.

This view, stated ad nauseam in establishment publications, is quite simply untrue; and the suppression of the facts regarding these islands constitutes one of the most egregious examples of academic disinformation ever to appear. For the truth is, the Azores sit on a mini-continental tectonic plate known as the Azores Microplate (of which there is a huge amount of material on the internet), and this plate, torn off from Europe in the distant past, is composed of granite, the foundation material of all continents. Furthermore, numerous oceanic surveys have found abundant proofs that, in the relatively recent past, a substantial island existed on the spot. This evidence is of several varieties and is mentioned in all scientific papers dealing with the islands' geology.

Some of the most dramatic evidence appeared in a report by Professor Maurice Ewing of Columbia University, published in the National Geographic in 1949. The report, entitled "New Discoveries on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge", highlighted a series of "new scientific puzzles" which had come to light during a recent geological survey of the Atlantic led by Professor Ewing. Chief among these discoveries was "prehistoric beach sand" around the Azores archipelago. These deposits were found to be sorted by surf action into the usual pattern of shoreline beaches familiar to geologists. Some of these sunken shorelines were very deep under the ocean, others were far closer to the present shoreline, indicating that the sunken landmass had descended in several stages into the ocean. What could have caused this cataclysmic sinking? Near the Azores, Professor Ewing's team found an uncharted submarine mountain, 8,000 feet high, with "many layers of volcanic ash", and further on, a great chasm dropping down 1,809 fathoms (10,854 feet), "as if a volcano had caved in there at some time in the past." This speaks of a cataclysmic volcanic explosion, unlike anything in modern experience, though the foundation rocks of the region were not volcanic - contrary to everything we are told in the popular textbook literature; for, "In a depth of 3,600 feet (600 fathoms) we found rocks that tell an interesting story about the past history of the Atlantic Ocean ... granite and sedimentary rocks of types which must originally have been part of a continent."

These latter rocks, it is now known, form a roughly triangular sunken mini-continent around the Azores, a formation a little larger than Ireland. This mini-continent "fits" into the shoreline of Europe and Africa at the Straits of Gibraltar and clearly broke off from that region in deep antiquity, when tectonic forces began the process of separating the Old World from the New and forming the Atlantic Ocean. A little explanation is here called for. Granite is classed by geologists as sial (rocks rich in silicates and aluminium), the basic building-blocks of continents. It is lighter than the rock of the ocean-floor, known as sima, which is composed of basalt. Geologists see the lighter granite sial as sitting, or even floating, on the heavier sima, much like icebergs floating upon the ocean. And just like icebergs, the granite continents protrude only a little above the oceans, with over 90 percent of their volume rooted deep in the basalt of the earth's mantle. Thus, finding granite beneath the Azores (as well as sedimentary rock) was a sure sign that continental land had once existed on the spot.

But when did the Azores microplate, or the Atlantic Island, as we should rightly call it, sink? Professor Ewing was quick to dissociate his discoveries with the Atlantis legend, and claimed that the vulcanism and shoreline-sinking he had detected had occurred in the distant past, long before the coming of humanity. Other researchers however, mainly from Russia and Scandinavia, have begged to differ. Thus for example in 1944 Swedish oceanographer Hans Pettersson wrote: "The topmost of ... two volcanic strata [on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge] is found above the topmost glacial stratum, which indicates that this volcanic catastrophe or catastrophes occurred in postglacial times. ... It can therefore not be entirely ruled out that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the sample originated, was above sea level up to about ten thousand years ago and did not subside to its present depth until later." (Pettersson, Atlantis och Atlanten (Stockholm, 1944).

In 1957 Dr Rene Malaise of the Riks Museum in Stockholm announced that a colleague, Dr R. W. Kolbe, had found definitive proof of the geologically recent subsidence of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Azores. Dr Kolbe, of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, had been commissioned to investigate diatoms (tiny freshwater creatures) found in deep sea cores obtained during a 1948 oceanic expedition from Sweden headed by Dr Otto Mellis. Although the expedition included a globe-encircling study, only those cores taken from the Azores and Mid-Atlantic Ridge yielded the following: Multitudinous shells of freshwater diatoms and fossilized remains of terrestrial plants. (See R. W. Kolbe, "Fresh-Water Diatoms from Atlantic Deep-Sea Sediments," Science, 126 (November, 1957)). So compelling was the evidence that by 1975 the British journal New Scientist could produce a headline which read, "Concrete Evidence of Atlantis?" Commenting upon a recent oceanographic expedition, the magazine noted that, "Although they make no such fanciful claim from their results as to have discovered the mythical mid-Atlantic landmass, an international group of oceanographers has now convincingly confirmed preliminary findings that a sunken block of continent lies in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean." (New Scientist, 1975).

Within a short time of this article's appearance however the establishment closed ranks again and virtually all discussion of the Azores Microplate and its recent sinking was quietly dropped in British and American academic journals. Such however was not the case in Russia, where a whole scholarly literature on the topic developed. Thus in 1963 Russian chemist Nikolai Zhirov collated all the evidence up to that point, in a publication aimed at putting the Atlantis debate on a scientific footing. (Nikolai Zhirov, Atlantis: Atlantology, Basic Problems (English ed. 1968). He quoted not five or ten but literally scores of geologists, oceanographers, palaeontologists, and biologists, many of them from the Soviet Union, who were of the opinion that the region round the Azores, as well as large sections of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, had stood above the water as recently as the end of the last Ice Age and even later - even into the Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages. Amongst those holding this opinion were geologist D. I. Mushketov, geologist A. N. Mazarovich, marine geologist Professor M. V. Klenova, world-famous geologist and Fellow of the Moscow Academy, Vladimir Obruchev, as well as scores of other specialists from the Soviet Union and elsewhere.

All well and good, yet a couple of important questions spring to mind. Firstly: What made the Russian and Scandinavian scientists so certain that the subsidence of the Azores landmass was so recent, and secondly: Why is it that researchers and fishermen do not regularly trawl up human artifacts and animal remains from around the Azores, as they do in the Doggarland region of the North Sea? Both questions have straightforward answers.

(1) The recentness of the Azores Microplate's subsidence was suggested by the fact that the plant and animal life recovered from core drillings were all of young species - either Pleistocene or Holocene (modern). Furthermore, it was found that foraminifera (plankton) from the Pleistocene epoch found on the sea-bed differed dramatically on either side of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. That on the western side was warmth-loving and that on the eastern side cold-loving, suggesting that during the Pleistocene a land barrier had halted the warm Gulf Stream in mid-ocean, leaving warm-climate plankton on the west side of the barrier and cold-climate plankton on the east.

(2) Fishermen and scientists do not regularly dredge up animal and human remains from around the Azores because the sea adjacent to the islands is much deeper than the North Sea and in addition all the evidence suggests that the Azores Plate sank catastrophically, amidst vast volcanic activity. Any human and animal remains will be discovered deep under layers of volcanic ash and lava, but since scientists use narrow core drills, the chances of bringing these up are a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Nonetheless, if some day a Neolithic axe or spear-head is dredged from the sea around the Azores we should not count it a miracle; just good luck.