In school we learned that there are only six continents in the world: Eurasia, Africa, Australia, North America, South America and Antarctica but a new study shows that there is a seventh continent called Zealandia, a continent that has just been discovered.
In the new study, researchers say that New Zealand and New Caledonia are part of a continental crust that is different from Australia.
Experts claim that this is not a discovery that appeared out of the blue as it was done in steps. Ten years ago scientists didn’t had enough data to do this study. Geologists tend to accept this new discovery. Bruce Luyendyk, a researcher who was not part of the study thinks that the authors of the study put together a solid collection of evidence.
The Zealandia concept is not new. Luyendyk created the world in 1995 although it was never meant to describe a new continent. Actually, it was supposed to named the collection of New Zealand islands, New Caledonia and crust pieces from Gondwana.
The authors of this new study went further, reexamining evidence with the help of four criteria: land that sits relatively up from the bottom of the ocean, a diversity of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, a thicker and less dense crush compared to the rest of the Oceanic crust and the well defined limits around a wide region to be considered a continent and not a fragment of a continent.
Geologists already knew that New Zealand and New Caledonia were a fit for the first three criteria. It was believed that they form a collection of microcontinents. After research with the help of satellite images and gravitation maps of the bottom of the ocean, the authors reached that conclusion that Zealandia is part of a unified region.
Scientists added the fact that the “scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is more than just a name on the list”. It is needed to understand the geo dynamics of crusts. Also, there are some economical implications: what is part of New Zealand and what is not?
The United Nations determined that continental shelves are the borders of an Insular country, in the case of New Zealand there are many fuel, fossils and mineral deposits hidden in this underwater continental region.