Welcome to Zealandia, the Newest Continent

As published in GSA Today, Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent, this landmass broke off of Australia tens of millions of years ago and is now 94% underwater. (The part of the continent above the water is New Zealand.)  The authors of this article state that “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.” (Abstract)

While the existence of this continent had been known for years( Zealandia was first named by Bruce Luyendyk in his Hypothesis for Cretaceous Rifting of East Gondwana caused by Subducted Slab Capture written in 1995), the first scientific expedition to explore this area has just finished its survey, and that is why this is now newsworthy.

The JOIDES Resolution is the name of the survey ship; it has a YouTube channel with brief videos highlighting some of the work involved with this expedition. You can also read blog entries at the vessel’s site. Additional information at The New York Times, The Guardian, Smithsonian, and National Geographic.

 

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