Wait, there's ANOTHER new continent?
Apparently, while we were busy with other stuff, science just determined there's a new continent. Hard to imagine how that's possible, given that there's only so much land on Earth, and some of it (ahem, Cali) is constantly threatening to sink into the ocean.
Turns out this new continent is submerged in the South Pacific, above New Zealand. Scientists are recognizing it with the name Zealandia.
That sounds pretty magical. Go, science!
“The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list,” scientists wrote in a paper published in the Geological Society of America's Journal, GSA Today.
Researchers say Zealandia is a distinct geological entity.
It meets all the criteria applied to Earth's seven other continents, like elevation above the surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area and a crust much thicker than that found on the ocean floor.
More cool Zealandia facts soon followed:
Zealandia measures five million square kilometre (1.9 million square miles) and is 94 percent underwater.
The scientists said Zealandia was once part of the Gondwana super-continent but broke away about 100 million years ago.
“That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it (useful)… in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust.”
According to lead author Nick Mortimer, scientists have been gathering data to make the case for Zealandia for over 20 years.
But, since most of it is hidden beneath the ocean, their efforts had been slowed.
“If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it would be clear to everybody that we have mountain chains and a big, high-standing continent,” Mortimer told TVNZ.
Just goes to show you, the Earth packs never-ending surprises! What else might be out there??