We know more about the surface of the moon than we do what's under our oceans. It should come as no surprise then that scientists have just announced that there could be an eighth continent hiding under the waves. Could this be the lost city of Atlantis? How many other collapsed continents might we find lurking fathoms below on the ocean floor?
Called Zealandia, we can actually see parts of the massive continent above water. The few small islands that make up New Zealand are actually just a small part of a large, previously unknown continent, 94% of which is submerged. How crazy is that?
In the Geological Society of America's Journal, researchers claim that Zealandia measures 1.9m sq miles: which is about two thirds of neighboring Australia. They also believe that the landmass has all the qualifications to be designated a continent.
These include elevation above the surrounding area, a distinctive geology, a well-defined area, and finally, a crust thicker than the regular ocean floor.
Geologist Nick Mortimer said scientists have been researching data to make the case for Zealandia for more than two decades.
"The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list. That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented" makes it useful for "exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust."
Zealandia has a continental crust thickness varying from 6 and 18 miles, the thinnest of any continent. But the thickness increases to around 24 miles under portions of New Zealand’s South Island.
It was was once part of the supercontinent Gondwana, before separating in the Late Cretaceous period. "Zealandia illustrates that the large and the obvious in natural science can be overlooked," the study states. So cool.
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