There’s a Secret Hidden Continent Below New Zealand

Written by on September 16, 2019 in Sci-Tech, Science with 0 Comments

CC BY 2.0 NASA/Goddard/NPP

By Melissa Breyer | Treehugger

Scientists have been studying the huge submerged landmass for decades and are now pushing for its recognition as a continent.

Everyone knows that there are seven continents – but it’s becoming increasingly evident that maybe we don’t actually know that much about the planet we call home. New mysteries are regularly revealed; for heaven’s sake, we’ve only explored less than five percent of the ocean. Out of the 10 million species that dwell there, we know only one million of them. This planet holds so many beautiful secrets, many of which are right under our noses.

Which is why it’s both completely surprising and then again not at all to learn that there is an eighth continent, according to scientists who have been studying it for decades. Meet “Zealandia.”

The enormous landmass is almost entirely submerged in the southwest Pacific, though you would know it’s highest mountains that peek out from the water in the shape of New Zealand. The highest point of Zealandia is Aoraki–Mount Cook at 12,218 feet (3,724 meters).

South Islands and New Caledonia also belong to the continent contender. Altogether, the area measures a whopping 1.9 million square miles (5 million square kilometers) – for comparison, that’s about two-thirds of the size of nearby Australia.



But if there’s a landmass that is 94 percent underwater, isn’t it just ocean floor? What makes researchers think it deserves continent status?

In a study published in the Geological Society of America's Journal, the authors explain continent-making criteria, of which Zealandia fulfills the requirements. Here’s a summary of their summary of the four key attributes of continents and assess how Zealandia meets these criteria.

Zealandia is everywhere substantially elevated above the surrounding oceanic crust. The main difference with other continents is that it has much wider and deeper continental shelves than is usually the case.

By itself, the relatively high elevation is not enough to establish that a piece of crust is continental, but looking at the geology of Zealandia puts it into continent turf. To make a long story short, the authors note: “Essential geological ground truth for Zealandia is provided by the many island outcrop, drill core, xenolith, and seabed dredge samples of Paleozoic and Mesozoic greywacke, schist, granite, and other siliceous continental rocks that have been found within its limits.”

Crustal Structure
Zealandia’s crustal structure is atypical of normal oceanic crust. And while most of its crust is thinner than that of most continents, it is nonetheless thicker than even the thickest crust of the ocean basins.

Limits and Area
There is a long discussion about continent-ocean boundaries and well-defined geologic and geographic limits … and from which the authors conclude that Zealandia is large enough and well-defined enough to be termed a continent.


Tags: , , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use' must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Send this to a friend