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Zealandia: World's 8th Continent Now Pieced Together

Image: Zealandia: World's 8th Continent Now Pieced Together

Topography of Zealandia: The linear ridges running north-northeast and southwest away from New Zealand are not considered part of the continental fragment, nor are Australia (upper left), Fiji or Vanuatu (top centre). (Wikimedia Commons)
 

By    |   Friday, 17 Feb 2017 08:09 AM

Zealandia is being called the world's eighth continent, but has gone unnoticed until researchers recently surfaced the mostly submerged land mass in a study.

New Zealand and New Caledonia, along with several other territories and islands are now part of the 1.9 million-square-mile land mass that was once part of the ancient super continent Gondwana that broke up about 100 million years ago, according to Sky News.

"Today (Zealandia) is 94 percent submerged, mainly as a result of widespread Late Cretaceous crustal thinning preceding supercontinent breakup and consequent isostatic balance," the researchers said in a Geological Society of America study.

"The identification of Zealandia as a geological continent, rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments, and slices, more correctly represents the geology of this part of Earth. Zealandia provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup."

The researchers said Zealandia meets the criteria for being called a continent, including elevation above the surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area, and a crust thicker than the regular ocean floor, noted the BBC News.

New Zealand and New Caledonia were once grouped in an ancient continent that included Australia, noted CNN, and the theory of a possible continent sitting under New Zealand has been around for some time, leading geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk to coin the term Zealandia in 1995.

The study's lead author, Nick Mortimer, told TVNZ One News he hopes the research, 20 years in the making, will bring more attention what is just beneath the waves of New Zealand.

"If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it would be clear to everybody that we have mountain chains and a big, high standing continent," said Mortimer said. "What we hope is that Zealandia will appear on world maps, in schools, everywhere."

"I think the revelation of a new continent is pretty exciting."

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Zealandia is being called the world's eighth continent, but has gone unnoticed until researchers recently surfaced the mostly submerged land mass in a study.
zealandia, worlds, 8th continent
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2017-09-17
Friday, 17 Feb 2017 08:09 AM
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