An underwater ‘lost continent’ two-thirds the size of Australia and being named Zealandia has been discovered.
And the giant land mass submerged in the southwest Pacific is also a
step closer to being recognised as a separate continent in its own right
if scientists get their way.
New Zealand (the country) sits on top of the 1.9 million-square-mile
expanse which may be 94% covered by water but meets all the other
criteria applied to each of the seven other continents.
It is believed to have broken away about 100 million years ago,
according to geologists, and sank between 60-85 million years ago.
As well as both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, Zealandia
also includes New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Lord Howe Island group
and Elizabeth and Middleton reefs among other territories and islands
previously grouped with Australia in Australasia.
A paper published in the Geological Society of America’s journal, GSA
Today, says: “The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a
continent is much more than just an extra name on a list.
“That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it
(useful)… in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust.”
Mr Mortimer told TVNZ: “If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it
would be clear to everybody that we have mountain chains and a big, high
“What we hope is that Zealandia will appear on world maps, in schools, everywhere.
“I think the revelation of a new continent is pretty exciting.”