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Zealandia, the 8th Continent Missing for 375 Years, Discovered by Scientists

September 28, 2023

After almost 375 years, geoscientists have discovered a continent that had been hiding in plain sight. The small team of geologists and seismologists has created a newly refined map of Zealandia or Te Riu-a-Maui, reported Phys.org. The researchers found it by using the data obtained from dredged rock samples recovered from the ocean floor. The details of the research have been published in the journal Tectonics.
According to a BBC report, Zealandia is a vast continent of 1.89 million sq miles (4.9 million sq km) it is around six times the size of Madagascar. The team of scientists informed that there are in fact 8 continents- and the latest addition breaks all records, as the smallest, thinnest, and youngest in the world.

The new continent is 94 per cent underwater, with just a handful of islands, similar to New Zealand. “This is an example of how something very obvious can take a while to uncover,” says Andy Tulloch, a geologist at the New Zealand Crown Research Institute GNS Science, who was part of the team that discovered Zealandia, BBC reported.

Scientists say that Zealandia has always been difficult to study. Scientists are now studying collections of rocks and sediment samples brought up from the ocean bed, most of which came from drilling sites-others came from the shores of islands in the area.

Phys.org reported that the study of the rock samples showed geologic patterns in West Antarctica that hinted at the possibility of a subduction zone near the Campbell Plateau off the west coast of New Zealand. The researchers did not find magnetic anomalies in that area, however, which argues against theories surrounding a strike-slip in the Campbell Fault.

The newly refined map shows not only the location of the magmatic arc axis of the Zealandia continent but other major geological features as well.

Zealandia was originally part of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which was formed about 550 million years ago and essentially lumped together all the land in the southern hemisphere.

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