Zealandia: this 7th continent discovered off Australia

Scientists already call it “the hidden continent of the Earth”. Australian researchers say they have discovered a seventh continent off Australia. A new area called “Zealandia” located in the south west of the Pacific Ocean.

In an article published in The Geological Society of America, scientists say they have seen this indivisible geological region measuring about five million square kilometers, or two-thirds of Australia, by studying new satellite images of the seabed. .

The highlight of this 7 th continent would be Mount Aoraki

Screening this sunken world, our experts have combined the four criteria (a level above the sea, geology, crustal structure and tectonic and spatial separation) that determine that a land is a “continent “.

Bottom line: the continental crust of Zealandia is physically separated from Australia, it turns out that 94% of its surface is submerged and that only New Zealand and New Caledonia make it visible. Two “huge and isolated islands that have never been considered part of the Australian continent,” say the authors of the study. Thus, the culmination of this seventh continent would be Mount Aoraki located in New Zealand (3.724 meters).

“If the elevation of the solid surface of the Earth had been mapped in the same way as those of Mars and Venus, then we argue that this continent would have been identified much earlier as one of the continents of the Earth,” stress geologists.

A region of Gondwana, a supercontinent

The term “Zealandia” was coined in 1995 by Bruce Luyendyk, a geophysicist at the University of California. Evidence was lacking, however, to demarcate this new continent. The name was used to describe New Zealand, New Caledonia and “a collection of submerged crusts that broke 200 million years ago with a region of Gondwana, a supercontinent,” recalls Science Post. It remained to be determined whether the area was wide enough to be considered a continent rather than a microcontinent or a continental fragment. What is now done.

According to this study, the existence of Zealandia is also justified because “New Zealand and New Caledonia are huge islands and isolated, they have never been considered part of the Australian continent.”

“Zealandia is approximately the size of India and like India, Australia, Antarctica, Africa and South America, Zealandia was part of the Gondwana super continent (a space that after collision with another super continent Laurussia formed Pangea, ed], continues the study.

According to the researchers, Zealandia is therefore the “seventh largest geological continent” and the “youngest and most immersed” continent.

As a reminder, there are seven continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Oceania and Antarctica. Geologists believe, however, that Europe and Asia are one.

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