Your third-class geography class must have told you that our planet has seven continents – Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia / Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America – but many geologists claim that the sunken continent should also be considered part of this gang. Thanks to a new project, you can now feed your eyes on stunning map sets detailing this long-lost continent. The continent of Zealand, known as Te Riu-a-Māui, is a 5 million square kilometers (2 million square miles) continent found in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. New Zealand, New Caledonia, and a few Pacific islands, as well as up to 99 percent of the “eighth continent”, are currently underwater off Australia’s east coast.
In 2017, geologists from New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Australia concluded that Zealandia sustained all the boxes needed to define a continent, not just a microcontinent or continental segment. Geologists from the New Zealand research team GNS Science have released a fascinating map showing the smooth map (shape of the seafloor) and the tectonic origin of the eighth continent of the world. You can now access new maps and dashboards.
Vaughan Stagpoole, program leader, explained in a statement, “Users can zoom and pan around various thematic geoscience web maps in the region. They can easily view and query maps and turn layers on or off. They can also search for the properties of layers and create their own custom maps.”
Dr Nick Mortime, a geologist at GNS Science added, “We created these maps to provide an accurate, complete and up-to-date picture of the geology of New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific – which was better than before.” He continued, “Their value is that they provide a new context for interpreting and understanding New Zealand’s volcanic, plate boundary and sediment basin definition.”
Zealandia came into existence 9 to 63 million years ago, after being separated from the ancient continent, Gondwanaland, which existed until the Jurassic period (about 180 million years ago). The remnants of Gondwana makeup about two-thirds of today’s continental region, including South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, the Indian subcontinent, Arabia – at least but not less – Zealandia. 50 to 35 million years ago, some of the development of Zealandia changed, and then sank to the ground and we see today on the submerged continent. Although a number of projects have tried to better understand Zealand in recent years, there is still much to learn about this largely hidden continent.