German scientists launch quest to remote Tristan da Cunha

January 17, 2012

A team of German scientists on Tuesday launched an expedition to the remote British archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, in a bid to uncover secrets linked to the ancient supercontinent Gondwana.

Scientists at the Kiel-based oceans research institute Geomar have set off from Namibia for the archipelago located mid-way between Africa and Argentina, some 2,500 kilometres (1,555 miles) away from the closest populated area.

They are hoping to obtain data that could answer questions surrounding the breakup of Gondwana some 120 million years ago as well as the formation of the South Atlantic.

The supercontinent comprised of what is much of today's , including South America, Africa and Australia.

According to the , Tristan da Cunha's creation was closely linked to what actually happened in the breakup.

"While the region is important for the understanding of in general, there is too little geophysical information on Tristan da Cunha," said Marion Jegen, who is leading the expedition.

The voyage is expected to last until February 15 and will also help to provide logistics support to the 262 inhabitants of the island's capital Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.

Three British engineers will be repairing infrastructures in the small fishing port of the .

Explore further: Can modern-day plants trace their New Zealand ancestry?

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