The mysterious "Eighth Continent" hidden under New Zealand reveals new secrets

The mysterious “Eighth Continent” hidden under New Zealand reveals new secrets

About one kilometer under the South Pacific Ocean is a 2 million square kilometer piece of land – half the size of Australia. But scientists cannot agree on whether this submerged landmass, called Zealandia, is a continent or not. A team of geologists declared it so in 2017, but not all researchers are convinced.

Nick Mortimer, a GNS science geologist from New Zealand who led the 2017 group: “It’s not like a mountain or a country or a planet. There is no official body to endorse a continent.” Although the definition of a continent is controversial, Mortimer’s group has proposed that the continent have a clearly defined boundary, occupy an area greater than one million square kilometres, be elevated above the surrounding oceanic crust, and have continental crust thicker than that of the oceanic crust.

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“If you were to dry up the oceans, you would stand out as a high, well-defined plateau above the ocean floor,” said Nick Mortimer. He considers them “the thinnest, most submerged and smallest continents”.

However, the problem was that until recently the oldest crust and rocks sampled in Zealandia contained only 500 (…)

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