Zealandia named as new continent, scientists reveal

Credits Alexrk

Zealandia named as new continent, scientists reveal

However, scientists have made a startling discovery of a hidden continent named "Zealandia".

And before you start thinking about a trek around the continent, you'll need to realise that 94 per cent of it is below the Pacific Ocean. United Nations agreements often describe continental shelves as boundaries that help determine resource extraction, and according to Business Insider New Zealand might have tens of billions of dollars of minerals and fossil fuels near its shores.

At 4.9-million square kilometers, or almost 1.9-million square miles, it's bigger than all of India.

Zealandia was once part of Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent that merged with Laurasia around 335 million years ago to form the singular supercontinent Pangea, the study states.

The dedicated study of this area over the past 10 years has determined it is not just a group of continental islands and fragments but that it has a continental crust large and separate enough to be officially declared a separate continent. It turns out they sit on separate continents.

The name Zealandia was first proposed by geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk in 1995 as a collective name for New Zealand, the Chatham Rise, Campbell Plateau, and Lord Howe Rise.

But using modern satellite technology and maps of the seafloor, the researchers have concluded Zealandia is actually not as broken up as once thought and should be listed as one continuous continent next to the other seven.

"This is not a sudden discovery but a gradual realisation; as recently as 10 years ago we would not have had the accumulated data or confidence in interpretation to write this paper", they said in the journal GSA Today.

Credits NOAA

While most of it is thinner than the 30-46km typical of most continents, it is everywhere thicker than the crust of the ocean basins, which is around 7km.

The new, and what could soon be known as the eighth continent, is 94% submerged underwater.

"It is not unique in this regard: an ice-free, isostatically corrected West Antarctica would also largely be submerged", said Mortimer.

There's another continent on Earth, and it's been lurking in plain view for a long time.

It has since gone through substantial deformation to end up in its present shape and position.

Earth's surface is divided into two types of crust: continental and oceanic.

"The results are pushing us to rethink how broadly we can or should apply the established definition of geological continental landmasses", says Patricia Durance, a mineral geologist at the GNS Science office in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

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