Recently, a group of seismologists and geologists completed a new and improved map of Zealandia (also known as Te Riu-a-Maui), the eighth continent of the world, situated beneath the Pacific Ocean.
- The team, consisting of a few specialists, uncovered an eighth continent that had remained hidden for approximately 375 years.
- The updated map accurately displays the location of the magmatic arc axis, which forms the Zealandia continent, along with several other significant geological features. These findings were made possible by collecting dredged rock samples from the ocean floor.
Information about Zealandia
Prior research has suggested that approximately 83 million years ago, the supercontinent Gondwana was pulled apart by geological forces, resulting in the beginnings of the continents that exist today.
- It also resulted in the creation of another continent that is now submerged. That continent, called Zealandia, is believed to be approximately 94% under the sea—the remaining 6% make up New Zealand and surrounding islands.
- A study of the rock samples showed geologic patterns in West Antarctica that hinted at the possibility of a subduction zone near the Campbell Plateau off the west coast of New Zealand.
- However, the researchers did not find magnetic anomalies in that area, which argues against theories surrounding a strike-slip in the Campbell Fault.
- They suggest instead that the Campbell Magnetic Anomaly System resulted from the stretching of Gondwana as it was being torn apart. That stretching, they further propose, eventually led to a break, which resulted in the creation of the ocean floor that makes up the lower parts of the Zealandia continent.
Here are a few facts about Zealandia
- A landmass in the South Pacific Ocean called Zealandia is mostly submerged and stretches over 4.9 million square kilometres.
- It is six times bigger than Madagascar and roughly half the size of Australia. Zealandia extends from south of New Zealand to New Caledonia and west to the Kenn Plateau off Australia's east.
- The continent encompasses areas and islands such as New Caledonia and other Australian territories, including Lord Howe Island.
- The first evidence of its existence dates back to 1642 when Dutch Sailor Abel Tasman went on a mission to discover a huge continent in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Geologists discovered Zealandia in 2017 and found that it used to belong to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, formed about 550 million years ago. Zealandia is the world's smallest, thinnest, and youngest continent.
- Currently, 94% of the continent is underwater, with just a handful of islands, like New Zealand, thrusting out from its oceanic depths.
- Zealandia separated first from Antarctica 100 million years ago and then from Australia 80 million years ago.
- Recent research has revealed that 83 million years ago, the supercontinent Gondwana was split apart by geological forces, forming numerous continents, including Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, Australia, and Antarctica.
- Additionally, this event created Zealandia, which is predominantly submerged.