Geoscientists recently discovered a continent known as Zealandia that had been hiding in plain sight for almost 375 years.
GS I: Geography, Facts for Prelims
- Zealandia is a lengthy and slender microcontinent that is predominantly submerged beneath the South Pacific Ocean.
- Location: It is situated in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean, primarily to the east of Australia and to the south of New Caledonia. It encompasses the regions that include New Zealand and New Caledonia.
- Zealandia, also known as Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language, was formerly one of the constituent continents of the ancient supercontinent called Gondwana. Gondwana included regions such as Western Antarctica and Eastern Australia over 500 million years ago.
- Around 105 million years ago, Zealandia began to separate from Gondwana.
- Over time, Zealandia gradually sank beneath the ocean, with more than 94 percent of it remaining submerged for millennia.
- It spans an area of approximately 1.89 million square miles (4.9 million square km), which is roughly half the size of Australia.
- The majority of this continent lies submerged beneath depths of up to 6,560 feet (2 km).
- The visible part of Zealandia forms the foundation of New Zealand’s north and south islands as well as the island of New Caledonia.
Tectonic Plate Boundaries:
- Zealandia is positioned along the boundaries of multiple tectonic plates, including the Australian Plate, Pacific Plate, and Indo-Australian Plate.
- The existence of Zealandia was first documented in 1642 by Dutch businessman and sailor Abel Tasman, who was on a mission to discover the “great Southern Continent,” also known as Terra Australis.
-Source: Times Now