Researchers have identified a 2 million square miles continent hidden beneath the Pacific Ocean. They have named it Zealandia. The highest peaks of the continent which rise above the surface are the islands of New Zealand and New Caledonia. The newly identified continent is about two-thirds the size of Australia.
A group of geologist published their determination that Zealandia is indeed its own continent in the journal of the Geological Society of America. ”The paper we’ve written unashamedly sticks to empirical observations and descriptions,” Nick Mortimer, a geologist at GNS Science in Dunedin, New Zealand. told Reuters. ”The litmus test will really be if ‘Zealandia’ appears in maps and atlases in five or 10 year’s time.”“Zealandia” is believed to have broken away from Australia about 80 million years ago and sank beneath the sea as part of the break up of the super-continent known as Gondwanaland.
In geological terms, a continent is defined as “one of the Earth’s major land masses, including both dry land and continental shelves.” What makes Zealandia unusual is that 94 percent is underwater. The “new” continent is mostly continental shelf. Thanks to Irwin Bryan for contributing to this post.