Atlantis Geology: How Plato’s Location Was Perfect


How Plato got it right about Atlantis

This is the second in a series of articles on how Plato’s details about Atlantis are consistent with the real world. Plato could not have known the importance of these details, because the science did not exist in his day.

The Atlantis Geology Depends on Location

Atlantis Geology: Mountains of Atlantis?
Mountains of Atlantis? The Azores may have been a tiny portion of the once great island empire. Photo: Björn Ehrlich (CC BY-SA 3.0) via

In order to talk about the Atlantis geology, first we need to know where Atlantis was. So, where was it?

In the modern search for Atlantis, so many places have been named that the casual observer can easily become confused. Most scientists completely ignore the subject. Self-proclaimed skeptics ridicule the topic.

One fact can greatly simplify the entire topic. Plato defined the location and most Atlantis researchers are ignoring the source of the story. In order to find the location of Atlantis, all we need to do is consult Plato’s two dialogues, Timaeus and Critias.

But what about all the other locations? Quite simply, they are not Atlantis by definition. Plato gave us that definition. If Atlantis never really existed, then one or more of those other locations may have been inspiration for the tale, but they would still not be Atlantis. Either Atlantis existed where Plato said it did, or it did not exist at all. The best that any other location can hope for is to be named “inspiration” for the tale.

Plato’s Clues to Location

The Greek philosopher gave many clues. These are the critical ones for location. Atlantis,

  • Stood outside the Strait of Gibraltar (Pillars of Herakles)
  • Faced Gadira (modern Cádiz, Spain)
  • Was a large island in the Atlantic Ocean (not in the Mediterranean, which is considered a pond with a narrow opening)
  • Covered an expanse the size of ancient Libya and Asia (Minor) combined (2–3 times the size of Texas)

Atlantis Geology Examined

Atlantis Geology: Gibraltar is part of the geology of Atlantis.
Gibraltar is part of the geology of Atlantis. The Africa-Eurasia tectonic boundary runs through this region. Photo: Gibnews (PD) via

If Atlantis included the Azores, then Plato’s description of the lost island would be very compatible with the geology of the North Atlantic in this region. Why?

The key compatibility derives from the Africa-Eurasia tectonic plate boundary which runs through the Strait of Gibraltar and through the middle of the Azores. In fact, this boundary, at the eastern edge of the Azores, makes a sharp turn toward the Northwest.

Any geologist will tell you that most mountains on Earth occur on or near tectonic plate boundaries. And islands are essentially mountains in the water.

Geologists also know that the tectonic plate boundary from Gibraltar to the Azores is indistinct. Could this be a sign of damage? Could the destruction of Atlantis have broken up the boundary in this region making it hard to detect?

The Azores sit on an underwater plateau. This is an unusual geological formation. First of all, it’s huge. The region is thought to be a geological “hot spot” by some geologists, but this is a controversial hypothesis. Not every geologist agrees. Also, the classic hot spot in the Pacific Ocean—the Hawaii-Emperor chain—is a veritable time scale, with islands closest to the hot spot being larger, younger and more rugged. Islands farther from the hot spot are smaller, older and more weathered. The Azores do not fit this profile. The ages and island types are haphazardly arranged around the underwater plateau. They are not in an orderly series.

If Plato had picked a different region, he might not have had science on his side.

Nearly 200 million years ago, the African continent moved northward toward Eurasia. This northward movement resulted in what is called “subduction”—one tectonic plate sliding underneath another. Sometimes, a plate gets stuck and the movement of one plate against another is interrupted. An impediment can make the Earth’s crust in the region fold, further increasing the impediment. If such a wrinkle got started, then it might have built islands or even one very large island.

The following video explains in layman’s terms how Atlantis may have been created and subsequently destroyed.

Geology of Atlantis

Atlantis Geology: Summary

Plato got it right, again. The Atlantis geology fits the location Plato gave for the lost island empire. The tectonic boundary was the perfect place for island building. If Atlantis existed, and it was the result of an impediment to subduction, there likely would have been a limit to the island’s growth.

When that maximum island was achieved, local plate movement would have reached an impasse and continued subduction farther east along the tectonic boundary would have forced the Africa plate to start rotating. This forced rotation is shown in the abrupt bend in the Africa-Eurasia plate boundary—a stretch called the Terceira Ridge or “spreading center.” It is also shown in the current rotation about the Africa-Eurasia Euler pole more than a thousand kilometers south of the Azores bend.

This article was originally published 2014:0715 on


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