Zealandia Is Earth's Newest Continent
Zealandia is about 1.74 million square miles in size and 94 percent submerged. But at its highest points, it protrudes above the ocean surface in the form of New Zealand and New Caledonia, as per the journal of the Geological Society of America. The study suggests that Zealandia as a continent does not represent the discovery of a new land mass and that it should be classified not as a collection of islands and fragments but as a continent.
"If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it would be clear to everyone we have mountain chains and a big, high-standing continent above the ocean crust," Nick Mortimer, a geologist at GNS Science in Dunedin, New Zealand said. Studies further that Zealandia meets the definition of a continent with more than 1 million square kilometers in area and surrounded by well-defined geologic and geographic limits. The name Zealandia was coined in 1995 by Bruce Luyendyk who determined the possibility that New Zealand, New Caledonia and other islands were parts of another continent and not Australasia.
CBC News mentioned that Zealandia has a continental crust thickness between 6 and 18 miles, which is the thinnest of any continent. The crust thickness is believed to increase to more than 24 miles under portions of New Zealand's South Island. Zealandia covers about the same amount of area as India.
"Zealandia provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup," Mortimer said. He adds further that Zealandia would be the youngest and most submerged off the Earth's continents. The publication hopes the paper to be the ultimate reference for anything about and related to Zealandia as more study is done to understand its geology and significance.