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Lost Continent Zealandia Discovered by Scientists Under Pacific Ocean
Scientist have claimed to discover eighth continent with much of its region under the Pacific Ocean, near New Zealand. The continent named as Zealandia by research team has majority of its region under the ocean while some of its parts are in modern day New Zealand, New Caledonia and some regions above the water in the Pacific Ocean. The research team added that nearly 94 percent of the continent is currently under water and it stretches nearly 1.9 million square miles.
Researchers added that the content was possibly part of the super-continent Gondwana and broke away nearly 100 million years back. The continental shelves of Zealandia have an average depth of 1,000 meters. The nearby ocean crust is 3,000 meters deeper that the continental shelves of Zealandia.
While the ocean crust near the region is made up of basaltic rocks, the rocks in the region marked by Zealandia are from different varieties including granite, sandstone and limestone. During research projects spanning over 20 years, researchers have dredged rocks from the region and analyzed them.
Research team member, Nick Mortimer, a geologist with GNS Science in Dunedin, New Zealand, said, "I hope Zealandia will now start to appear on world maps which show the other continents. There is an extra one, and it is as real as all the others."
There is no official body that recognizes new continents, but the scientists believe Zealandia has the same features as the six we are familiar with.
Zealandia was born from the breakup of the supercontinent of Gondwana, about 85 million years ago. At that time, an ocean began to emerge between Australia and New Zealand.
Complete details of the findings of research team have been published in the Geological Society of America’s Journal, GSA Today.
The research team informed in the paper published in GSA Today, “That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it a useful and thought-provoking geodynamic end member in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust.”
Zealandia once made up nearly 5% of the area of Gondwana. It contains the principal geological record of the Mesozoic convergent margin of southeast Gondwana and, until the Late Cretaceous, lay Pacificward of half of West Antarctica and all of eastern Australia. Thus, depictions of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic geology of Gondwana, eastern Australia, and West Antarctica are both incomplete and misleading if they omit Zealandia.