Three hundred miles off the Scottish mainland and eighteen hundred miles east of Newfoundland, a light flashes every twenty seconds on a low pinnacle of rock breaking the emptiness of the North Atlantic.  This is the island of Rockall, Scotland’s remotest territory and for transatlantic passengers from Prestwick, a tiny black triangle forming the final outpost of Europe.  Swirling water nearby marks the sites of two other pinnacles just below the surface, Hasselwood Rock and Helen’s Reef.

The three rocks are the only visible signs of a submerged micro-continent the size of Ireland, foundered into the deep Atlantic as Europe and North America were drawn apart over a period of more than a hundred million years by convection currents within the mass of the earth. When energy shortage makes it economically worth tackling such a difficult area, this micro-continent and its surrounding waters may well become the source of oil.

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