A new continent? This is the amazing discovery of a submerged continent in the Pacific after 375 years of searching.

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In ancient times, due to geometrical symmetry, it was already imagined that there were more areas of land on the other side of the world. But it wasn’t until 1642 that Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered the lands now known as New Zealand, but he was disappointed because the size of the lands he discovered seemed too small.

Aristotle, Eratosthenes and Ptolemy named it Terra Australis Ignota, But it was only after 375 years that the existence of this continent was confirmed, although 94% of its land area is submerged under water. A map showing the entire surface of the continent of Silandia, or as it is known in Maori Te Riu-a-Maui, is completed. This was made possible by examining rocks dug up from the ocean floor.

The continent covers an area of ​​5 million square kilometers and is connected to Gondwana, the ancient southern continent that split hundreds of millions of years ago to form the continents we know today. Zealand was separated 80 million years ago when it sank into the sea and the only land on the surface was the New Zealand Islands, New Caledonia, Howe Island and the Ball Pyramid. For this reason, because it is submerged in the sea, the surface of Zealandia is less and poorly studied, but with recent research by geologist Nick Mortimer, the map of the missing two-thirds has been defined and 5 million km² has been completed. It refers to the surface.

To create this map, basalts, sandstones, and sandstone pebbles were analyzed and dated, revealing that they contained Upper Cretaceous (about 95 million years) and Lower Cretaceous (130 to 110 million years) granite and volcanic pebbles. years), while the basalts gave a date of Eocene (about 40 million years).

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After Abel Tasman sighted the land, later known as the island of Tasmania, explorers wanted to find the lost territory, not realizing they were sailing over it. A clue to its existence was compiled in 1895 by Scottish naturalist James Hector, who explored islands off the south coast of New Zealand. Expanded to the south and east and is now submerged.

Image credit: bbc.com

Later, in 1995, the American geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk redescribed the region and called it Zealandia. The continent is 20 km deep because its shelf was overextended when Gondwana broke up, and because of its thinness, the region sank. But, according to scientists, Zeelandia is a continent because of the type of rocks it forms.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, countries can extend their legal boundaries beyond their exclusive economic zone to claim their “extended continental shelf” 370 km from their coasts, all of which contain minerals and oil. Covers. Due to this, New Zealand could increase its land area by 6 times.

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Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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