Earth’s Eighth Continent? 2020 Brings New Surprise as Maps of ‘Zealandia’ Released in Latest Data

We all know the 7 continents of the world, namely North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Antarctica. In what could be called a turn of events, a research institute from New Zealand suggests the existence of an ‘eighth continent’ , ‘Zealandia’. Researchers say Zealandia was once a part of the same land mass as Antarctica and Australia before breaking off 85 million years ago.

GNS, New Zealand’s research institute on Monday published two new maps and developed an interactive website for citizens who can casually from the comfort of their homes sit and explore the latest data about the new continent such as coastlines and territorial limits. Through this website GNS provided the world a simple and better way to explore the complex geoscience data. GNS Science found this continent underwater and as many argue that the massive sunken landmass should be classified as Earth’s eighth continent, almost 95 percent of its total landmass is still underwater.

Zealandia (Photo Courtesy: GNS Science)

Researchers thought the continent submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean over 20 million years ago, after it separated from the supercontinent Gondwana 80 million years ago. 

A New Atlas report claims that with New Zealand and New Caledonia as its solely two above-water landmasses, Zealandia is around one-third smaller than the continent of Australia.

Another report by CNN claims this continent to be the abode of dinosaurs and lush rainforests. They suggest Zealandia to be half the size of Australia.

As per the US government research agency, National Science Foundation, the world’s largest tectonic plate – the Pacific Plate, sank below the continental crust of Zealandia which caused the root of the continent to break off and sink as well.

The new maps published by the GNS in their interactive website allows one to locate all the ancient volcanoes as well the modern ones on the continent. Not only this it also piques human interest as it permits to virtually explore the territories of dinosaurs, or see where on the land mass ridges are still spreading. The 1.9-million-square-mile (4.9-million-sq-km) tectonic profile of Zealandia is depicted on the tectonic map while the bathymetric map generates a detailed picture of the ocean floor.

Tectonic map of Zealandia (Photo Courtesy: GNS Science)
Bathymetric map of Zealandia (Photo Courtesy: GNS Science)

Geologist Dr. Nick, who is the lead author of the maps in a statement released by the site said, “These maps are a scientific benchmark – but they’re also more than that. They’re a way of communicating our work to our colleagues, stakeholders, educators and the public. We’ve made these maps to provide an accurate, complete and up-to-date picture of the geology of the New Zealand and southwest Pacific area – better than we have had before. Their value is that they provide a fresh context in which to explain and understand the setting of New Zealand’s volcanoes, plate boundary and sedimentary basins.”

2020 has been a year full of problems starting with the pandemic, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, locusts attack, communal riots etc. This year also marked new interesting discoveries of sorts like alien figures spotted on Mars and now the emergence of a new continent. 

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