Scientists begin mapping the mysterious 8th continent – ‘Zealandia’
Experts spent 20 years gathering data to make the case for the submerged landmass being a continent.
For the first time since its discovery in 2017, scientists are mapping the mysterious “lost” continent of Zealandia According to reports, this gigantic landmass in the South Pacific disappeared beneath the waves 23 million years ago.
Initially, the mainland was part of the gigantic super-continent Gondwana, which was made up of continents (that now exist) in the southern hemisphere.
Details about Zealandia
According to sources, Zealandia broke off from Gondwana between 85 and 79 million years ago. The supercontinent encompassed what is today South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Zealandia, Arabia, and the Indian subcontinent.
The continent Zealandia extends from the south of New Zealand northward to New Caledonia and west to the Kenn Plateau off Australia’s east coast, covering 1.9 million square miles. These numbers state that Zealandia is six times larger than Madagascar, the next-largest continental fragment.
Experts spent 20 years gathering data to make the case for the submerged landmass being a continent. Their efforts were frustrated because most of it is hidden beneath the waves.
According to details, about 94 percent of the landmass is underwater. Media reports state that the “hidden” continent is now being partially mapped thanks to a deepwater mapping expedition led by The University of Queensland.
Mapping of Zealandia
The north-western edge of the continent is being explored by Chief scientist Dr. Derya Gürer, who spent 28 days at sea on Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor. Dr. Gürer said:
We’re only just starting to discover Zealandia’s secrets. It’s remained hidden in plain sight until recently and is notoriously difficult to study.
What have scientists found till now?
Radar scans carried out by the team explored the contours of the narrow connection between the Tasman and Coral Seas in the Cato Trough region – the narrow corridor between Australia and Zealandia. These scans have provided 1,400 square miles of topographical data to the Seabed 2030 project.
The project aims to produce a publicly available bathymetric map to measure the depth of the world’s ocean floor depth by 2030. Regarding this, Dr. Gürer said:
The seafloor is full of clues for understanding the complex geologic history of both the Australian and Zealandian continental plates.
Dr. Gürer continued to state:
This data will also improve our understanding of the complex structure of the crust between the Australian and Zealandian plates. It’s thought to include several small continental fragments, or microcontinents, split from Australia and the supercontinent Gondwana in the past.
Although the study of Zealandia, the mysterious continent, has begun, it is safe to say that it’ll be a while before the scientists can make concrete conclusions about the continent.
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