A team of scientists decided to explore the eighth continent which lies hidden underwater, and find out its history and secrets. They spent two months studying Zealandia, the strip of land which contains New Zealand, and discovered some of its mysteries. Also, they established why this piece of sunken land should be regarded as a continent.
Zealandia is a worthy candidate for the eighth continent title
Zealandia lies east of Australia, and the only part of it which lies above sea level is New Zealand. It’s not such a broad mass of land, as it is about the size of India. Most of it is situated underwater, around 3,280 feet below sea level. When it was first discovered, scientists assumed it might be regarded as an eighth continent, and these new discoveries can explain why.
Millions of years ago, Zealandia was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. When it broke up and formed today’s continents, it caused a thinning of the tectonic plates in the area. This geological shock caused 94 percent of this mass of land to submerge. However, it is still quite far away from Australia, so it’s definitely not a part of it. Also, it benefits from enough to be regarded as an individual continent.
Scientists made interesting discoveries regarding the long-lost continent
A team of 32 scientists started the Zealandia expedition, where they collected some sediment sample from the land. This way, they could find out how it evolved over time from a geological point of view. They found out the piece of land split from Australia and Antarctica 80 million years ago, but it kept evolving until it reached today’s form.
However, Zealandia hasn’t always existed at such depths. The sediment samples showed it hosted life typical for shallow waters, so it submerged gradually over time until it reached its current location. Also, the formation of the volcanoes in the Ring of Fire ‘chained’ it to the bottom of the sea.
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