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Earth Has A Brand-New Continent Called Zealandia, And It's Been Hiding In Plain Sight For Ages

Geologists have determined there's a new continent called "Zealandia."

  • Recent satellite data and rock samples led to the conclusion.
  • New Zealand and New Caledonia are part of the new continent, which is about as big as greater India.
  • The new continent could have economic and geopolitical implications.


Kids are frequently taught that seven continents exist: Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Geologists, who look at the rocks (and tend to ignore the humans), group Europe and Asia into a supercontinent — Eurasia — making for a total of six geologic continents.

But according to a new study of Earth's crust, there's a seventh geologic continent called "Zealandia," and it has been hiding under our figurative noses for millennia.

The 11 researchers behind the study say that New Zealand and New Caledonia aren't merely island chains. Instead, they're both part of a single, 4.9 million-square-kilometer (1.89 million-square-mile) slab of continental crust that's distinct from Australia.

"This is not a sudden discovery, but a gradual realization; as recently as 10 years ago we would not have had the accumulated data or confidence in interpretation to write this paper," the researchers wrote in GSA Today, a journal of the Geological Society of America.

Ten of the researchers work for institutions within the new continent; one works for a university in Australia. But other geologists are almost certain to accept the team's continent-sized conclusions, says Bruce Luyendyk, a geophysicist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who wasn't involved in the study.

"These people here are A-list earth scientists," Luyendyk told Business Insider. "I think they've put together a solid collection of evidence that's really thorough. I don't see that there's going to be a lot of pushback, except maybe around the edges."

Why Zealandia is almost certainly a new continent

 

content-1487246672-zealandia.jpg

http://www.iflscience.com/environment/earth-has-a-brandnew-continent-called-zealandia-and-its-been-hiding-in-plain-sight-for-ages/

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GSA TODAY

 

Abstract | PDF (450KB)

Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent

Nick Mortimer1, Hamish J. Campbell2, Andy J. Tulloch1, Peter R. King2, Vaughan M. Stagpoole2, Ray A. Wood2, Mark S. Rattenbury2, Rupert Sutherland3, Chris J. Adams1, Julien Collot4, Maria Seton5

1 GNS Science, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
2 GNS Science, P.O. Box 30368, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
3 SGEES, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
4 Service Géologique de Nouvelle Calédonie, B.P. 465, Nouméa 98845, New Caledonia
5 School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

http://www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/27/3/article/GSATG321A.1.htm

 

 

 
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