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New hidden continent mostly underwater, scientists say

3 years ago by Kate Boersen


Many New Zealand geoscientists have long been building the case that New Zealand is part of a submerged continent named Zealandia.

"Being more than 1 million square kilometers in area, and bounded by well-defined geologic and geographic limits, Zealandia is, by our definition, large enough to be termed a continent," says Dr Nick Mortimer of GNS Science.

Geologists from GNS Science Victoria University, the Geological Survey of New Caledonia, and the University of Sydney have presented a scientific paper that the land mass is large and separate enough to be considered an actual continent.

The ‘new’ Zealandia continent is the seventh largest geological continent and is six times bigger than Madagascar, and about the same area as greater India

Dr Nick Mortimer says "Based on various lines of geological and geophysical evidence, particularly those accumulated in the last two decades, we argue that Zealandia is not a collection of partly submerged continental fragments but is a coherent 4.9 square million kilometre continent.”

It is also the youngest and thinnest continent. The continental crust thickness between 10km and 30km, and increasing to more than 40km under parts of the South Island.

Zealandia illustrates that the large and obvious in natural science can be overlooked. Dr Mortimer said the authors hoped the new paper would be the ‘go to’ scientific reference on Zealandia for many years to come.

Read more here: Earth’s Hidden Continent.