Below New Zealand lies the eighth continent, Zealand, on the seabed. It is five million square kilometers in size, and new maps from the New Zealand Research Institute reveal details of its geology and topography.
85 million years ago part of the same land mass as Antarctica and Australia, and now a lost continent sunk to the ocean floor – Zealand. The New Zealand Research Institute, however, has now released two new maps and an interactive website where you can learn about the tectonic profile of this five-million-square-kilometer continent. The maps also reveal more backgrounds about New Zealand volcanoes and other geological features, the GNS Science Institute said.
People all over the world can explore this continent from the comfort of their own home. An interactive website, for example, allows the user to locate all ancient and current volcanoes on the continent, as well as to follow the (still active) expansion of land mass ridges.
“These maps are scientific achievement, but much more than that. They are a way of communicating our work colleagues, stakeholders, educators and the public,” said geologist Nick Mortimer , water yeah project. ” We prepared this to have an accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date view of the geology of New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific. Better than ever.”
How the continent sank
The idea of the possibility of a lost continent in the area has existed for quite some time, and the name Zealand was first used by geophysicist Bruve Luyendyk in 1995.
Detailed research of this area has shown that it is not just a group of islands and fragments, but a land crust that is large and separate enough to be officially called a continent. In addition to Antarctica, Australia, South America, Africa, Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula, India and New Zealand, Zealand was part of Gondwana, the southern greatness. Thus, it was home to dinosaurs and a lush rainforest.
Millions of years later, tectonic plates were reorganized. At a time of dramatic geological change, the Pacific Ring of Fire, the belt where most of the world’s active volcanoes are located, also formed. The largest tectonic plate (Pacific) at the time most likely sank beneath Zealand’s land crust. This process, called subduction, has caused the continent’s core to break off and sink, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation, a U.S. government agency.
About 94 percent of Zealand is under water , but some parts of the continent make up New Zealand and other small islands. The highest point of Zealand is Aoraki, Mount Cook, and measures 3724 meters above sea level. Much remains unknown about the continent, but the question arises as to whether new discoveries could change historical climate models. The maps and the website will be updated as new findings emerge, CNN writes .