If you took geography classes as a child, you will probably remember the seven continents on Earth – North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Antarctica. However, a new research paper disagrees with this list because there is one continent missing. The continent was previously not discovered since it is beneath the surface of the ocean. Scientists are calling it “Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent.”
It is pretty evident from the name where the continent is located. Ipso facto, New Zealand is not just an island, it is the tip of Zealandia. The researchers wrote:
The identification of Zealandia as a geological continent, rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments, and slices, more correctly represents the geology of this part of Earth, Zealandia provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup.
It may sound silly since New Zealand appears really tiny on the map, Zealandia is a tad larger than that. Actually, 94% of the continent is submerged. The 6% that is not is actually the New Zealand that we see today. Also, New Zealand and the island of New Caledonia are both part of the same land mass, despite the fact that 1,500 miles of ocean separates them.
Well, what is a continent?
The definition of a continent is actually a bit difficult. Scientists are basically looking for land masses that are bound together. Therefore, U.S.S.R, Asia, Japan was also considered a single continent at one point of time. Also, in a lot of European classrooms, North and South America are considered to be a single continent.
However, according to the scientists, the designation of Zealandia as a separate continent will actually ease the study of breakup of continental crust. Based on various lines of geological and geophysical evidence, Zealandia appears to be a separate land mass of 4.9 million square kilometers.