Did you know that Te Riu-a-Māui? This Maori name refers to a continent buried under the surface of the Pacific Ocean, the only parts of which are above sea level are New Caledonia and New Zealand. Discovered in the early nineties and Zealandia After her christening, this will be the eighth continent on our planet and will be approximately the size of Australia: about five million square kilometers. Among the few pieces of land that managed to reach the surface, researchers recently took rock samples from an ore called zircon, such as National Geographic mentioned.
Huge progress thanks to rock samples
The goal was to see if this has been known to scientists for a long time Zealandia He has the qualities necessary to achieve the status of the continent. The research brought new evidence, but it was not definitively validated. So the research team analyzed these minerals and the results confirmed that this continent hidden under the ocean is much older than expected: 1.3 billion years. It’s still a relatively young age when you consider that all our seven continents are about three billion years old.
The so-called craton made of prehistoric rock forms the stable foundation on almost all continents. NS Zealandia However, this nucleus has not yet been discovered. , as part of Research project by Rose Turnbull The recently removed zircon crystals could provide evidence of a kraton within Zealandia.
The collected zirconia provided more answers, this time of a technical nature. Most oceanic geologic crusts contain significant amounts of magnesium and iron, but the sea floor around New Zealand is made up of silicate-rich rocks commonly found in continental crusts. All of this newly discovered evidence points to that Zealandia It could actually be the eighth continent of the planet Earth. Keith Kleibes, one of the study’s authors, explains National Geographic:
In a way, continents are like icebergs. What you see above the surface is just a small part of the big picture.
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