By CC Chiang
How many continents are there? Seven. At least that’s what we used to say… but what about now, with a new continent found?
A team of eleven researchers found a continent hidden in the southwest Pacific Ocean, called Zealandia, using upgraded satellite-based elevation and gravity map technology. According to The Geological Society of America, it is concluded that New Zealand and New Caledonia are part of a huge 4.9 million square kilometer (1.89 million square miles) continent, which is detached from Australia. Zealandia is bigger than India, and two-thirds the size of Australia. However, 94 percent of the region is submerged in the ocean. This is due to crustal thinning before the supercontinental break up, and tectonic forces that stretched and thinned the land, causing it to disappear beneath the water.
Scientist argue that Zealandia should be named a continent because it was once part of Gondwana 355 million years ago, even though it broke away from Gondwana 100 million years ago. Gondwana was a supercontinent merged with Laurasia. This was part of a single supercontinent called Pangea.
This is being referred to as a ‘realization’ rather than a ‘discovery’, because New Zealand has been considered to be a continent on its own before.
Studies say that it has met the requirements to be a continent and geologists are now considering it an officially declared continent. These requirements include elevation above surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area, and a crust that is much thicker than that found on the ocean floor.
Even though Zealandia has not been confirmed as an official continent yet, these findings have made us look at our world a different way and made us curious about the other possible discoveries that are hidden in the earth that still lay unexplored today.
What do you think? Should we accept Zealandia as a continent?
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