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Uncovering the Mystery of Zealandia: 8th Continent of World

By Shreya PatroSeptember 11, 2022
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Is Zealandia the 8th Continent of the World?

Throughout school, you have been taught about the continents of the world. Do you know how many there are? Most likely, just as everyone else would say, your answer is probably seven. And you would be correct as well. After all, that is what we have been taught, right? There are seven continents in the world. However, due to the recent research being done, there might actually be an eighth. The 8th continent in the world has just been discovered, and it might actually blow your minds.


Zealandia - The New Continent


Zealandia - The New Continent 


Yes, you heard it absolutely right. There actually might be an eighth continent that has been lurking in plain sight and still was unknown. Deep inside the Pacific Ocean, geologists have recently made a discovery of a large portion of land which was forgotten by the people. 


However, there is a catch - about 94 per cent of the continent is actually underwater. There are just a few islands, such as New Zealand, that have been thrusting out from the depths of the Ocean. And with that discovery, we have sufficient evidence of the 8th continent of the world. Are you intrigued yet? Well, read on ahead to find out more about Zealandia 8th Continent in this article. 


Know More About the 8th Continent Zealandia 

The continent, called Zealandia, is supposedly about 3500 feet deep inside the southern area of the Pacific Ocean. There has been a lot of debate going around regarding the continent and whether it should be called that or not. We all know that the certain definition of the word ‘continent’ is pretty debatable. 


However, according to scientists, a continent is supposed to have boundaries which are clearly defined, and it should occupy more than 1 million square kilometres of area. A continent should also be elevated above the surrounding crust of the ocean and should have a continental crust that is thicker than that of the oceanic crust. 


The thing about Zealandia is that it meets all the important criteria that have been listed by the scientists. Also, if you were to drain the entire ocean out, this particular mass of land would stand out as a proper plateau above the ocean floor. There was an initial problem with Zealandia. The oldest rock and crust ever samples from this mass of land were just about 500 million years ago. This can be seen as an opposition to the crusts of other continents, which dates to roughly 1 billion years old. 


However, according to the new studies, the details are to be changed. A recent study was published by the GeoScienceWorld, and it found that the part of the 8th missing continent, Zealandia, which was submerged under the water, is basically twice as big as scientists believed once. Hence, the study provided a final tick on this part of the land. 


First Evidence About the Presence of Zealandia 

The first evidence of Zealandia’s presence was in the year 1642. It was when Abel Tasman, who was a Dutch Sailor, was on a mission to discover a huge continent situated in the Southern Hemisphere. He truly believed in the existence of such a mass of land. So, on the 14th of August, Tasman started the journey from Jakarta with two small ships. He started by heading west and the South, then east, and hence he eventually ended up on the Southern Island of New Zealand.

 

During his journey, he met up with many different adventures for sure. His encounter with the Maori people, who are the indigenous inhabitants of the islands in New Zealand, was of particular interest for sure. However, he still had faith in his discovery of the great southern continent. Finally, Tasman managed to discover the continent - only he didn’t have any idea that it was mostly under the water. 


The Unusual Discovery of Zealandia

Since the first encounter with Abel Tasman, scientists have actually been on the trail of Zealandia for a long time. Finally, after about 375 years, in 2017, the geologists finally made the discovery of Zealandia, and now we have 8 continents of the world. Did you know that Zealandia is called Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language? 


The total area of Zealandia is about 4.9 million sq kilometres. This is nearly 6 times the actual size and area of Madagascar. Apart from New Zealand, the are other areas and islands encompassed by the continent, such as New Caledonia and other Australian territories belonging to the Lord How Island, as well as Bali’s Pyramid. 


The Rocks of Zealandia 

This continent that was submerged was actually a part of the ancient supercontinent that we know as Gondwanaland, which was around 80 years ago. However, for the past 23 million years or so, the continent has been nearly submerged. So, there is no doubt that studying the entire mass of land would be a challenge for geologists. 


Despite being submerged and extremely thin, the geologists are fairly certain that Zealandia is definitely a continent because there are different kinds of rocks found here. The ocean floor is created with igneous rocks like Basalt. However, the continental crust contains traces of metamorphic, igneous, as well as sedimentary rocks. Scientists have found rocks such as Schist, Granite, and Limestone on the continent. 


Conclusion 

Despite being recently discovered, geologists still claim that many things are unknown about the continent. The unusual story of the origin of Zealandia actually makes this more interesting and somewhat baffling as well. 


For example, how exactly did the continent stay intact and together when it was very thin? How did it not disintegrate into different, small micro-continents? Another mystery about Zealandia is when exactly did it go underwater? Was it once dry land? Well, with more research, we hope to find the answers to these questions soon. That is all about the new continent. Can you tell us all the 8 continents' names? Try it out and see if you know the answer.