We Always Thought New Zealand Was an Island; Turns Out It’s the Tip of a Whole Continent
Science & Tech| | By Jason Owen
It’s no secret that Australia is home to numerous larger-than-life creatures, but it turns out Aussie’s neighbor island New Zealand has its own larger-than-life secrets. According to recent findings, New Zealand isn’t an island at all.
The Geological Society of America recently published a new study in GSA Today that says New Zealand (and island neighbor New Caledonia) are actually the highest elevation of a continent 94 percent submerged beneath the ocean. The GSA is now considering the land mass the eighth continent of the world, dubbing it Zealandia.
Geological scholars have long known about the submerged land, but had previously “written off” the area “as an amalgam of continental fragments and slivers,” according to a video from the Washington Post. The new research revealed it is one giant land mass and meets all the requirements of continental classification.
From NBC News:
“The proposed recognition of the continent of Zealandia does not represent the discovery of a new land mass. Rather, the paper argues that the geological evidence suggests the land mass should be classified not as a collection of islands and fragments but as a bona fide continent.
“‘If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it would be clear to everyone we have mountain chains and a big, high-standing continent above the ocean crust,’ Nick Mortimer, a geologist at GNS Science in Dunedin, New Zealand, told Reuters.”
Mortimer was the lead author of the paper proposing the new classification, “Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent.”
While this new classification should change science books in the future, the researchers say the change could be harder to implement and that this is just the opening argument in the case. There is no scientific body that formally recognizes continents, according to the Washington Post. Therefore, in order for Zealandia to truly be considered a new continent, Mortimer says the real test lies in people putting the continent into maps and atlases in future years.
“The litmus test will really be if Zealandia appears in maps and atlases in five or 10 years time,” said Mortimer.
Learn more about the new continent in the video below.