A Lost Continent that sunk about 100 million years ago has been discovered underneath New Zealand by the scientists. Zealandia, a lost continent submerged in the southwest Pacific Ocean, is large enough to be recognized as a separate continent.
- The report was published “GSA Today”, the journal of the Geological Society of America.
Key Highlights of the Findings
Zealandia covers nearly 5 million sq. km (1.9 million sq miles) out of which 94 percent is under water and surrounds New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Lord Howe Island group and Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.
- Its area is about the same size as the Indian subcontinent and half that of Europe. It is believed to have broken away from Gondwana which is the immense landmass that once encompassed Australia and sank between 60 and 85 million years ago.
- The continental shelves of Zealandia lie at a depth of about 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) below sea level while the nearby oceanic crust is about 9,800 feet (3,000 m) below. It is believed to be hiding under New Zealand.
- The crust surrounding New Zealand is composed of a variety of different rock types, including granite, limestone and sandstone some of which are incredibly ancient and thus paves way to designate Zealandia as a separate continent.
- Satellite maps made using Earth’s gravitational field clearly show that Zealandia has a narrow strip of oceanic crust separating the continent of Australia from the subterranean reaches of Zealandia, meaning the two are separate continents,
- The study identifies Zealandia as a geological continent rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments, and slices.
Recognition as a Continent
There is no accepted definition of a Continent as well as there is no official body that recognizes new continents, but the scientists believe Zealandia has the same features as the six we are familiar with.
- Therefore, the researchers hope that enough of the team of experts should agree to recognize the landmass as a separate continent otherwise it would simply remain a piece of theoretical concept.
- If Zealandia is recognized as a continent then it would be the world’s seventh and smallest continent after Eurasia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, and Australia.
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