New Zealand: New maps reveal lost submarine continent of New Zealand

New Zealand: New maps reveal lost submarine continent of New Zealand

Once part of the same land mass as Antarctica and Australia, the lost continent of Zealand erupted 85 million years ago and eventually sank beneath the ocean, where it remained largely hidden for centuries.

Now, the maps reveal new research on the underwater continent where dinosaurs once roamed – and allow audiences to explore it.

GNS Science, a New Zealand research institute, has published two new maps and an interactive website on Monday. The maps cover the shape of the ocean floor and the tectonic profile of Zealand, which collectively help tell the story of the origin of the continent.
The maps also help explain the location of New Zealand’s volcanoes, sedimentary basins and other geological features, GNS Science said. in a press release.

People all over the world can explore the continent from their homes. The interactive site displays different types of maps of Zealand, which users can layer and alternate as they wish. For example, you could find all the ancient and modern volcanoes on the continent, or see where the land massifs are spread out on land.

“These maps are a scientific benchmark – but they are also more than that. It’s a way of communicating our work to colleagues, stakeholders, teachers and the public,” said geologist Dr. Nick Mortimer, lead author of the maps, in the edition.

“We have made these maps to provide an accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the geology of the New Zealand region and the Southwest Pacific – better than we had before.”

How the continent sank

The idea of ​​a possible continent in this area has been around for some time and the name “Zealandia” was first coined by geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk in 1995.

A special study of this area, which stretches for about 5 million square kilometers (about 1.93 million square miles), has since found that it is not just a group of continental islands and fragments, but a continental crust that is large enough and separate for to officially declare a separate Epirus.

Zealand was part of Gondwana, the superpower that once held many of the continents we know today, such as Africa and South America.

About 85 million years ago, Zealand was separated from Gondwana. The drifting, changing mass of the earth, about half the size of Australia, housed dinosaurs and a rich tropical forest.

Millions of years later, the world’s tectonic plates – pieces of the Earth’s crust – began to reorganize, in a period of dramatic geological change that also created the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone in the Pacific where most people are located. active volcanoes.

During this time, the Pacific Plate – the largest tectonic plate in the world – is believed to have sunk beneath the mainland. This process, called subduction, caused the continent’s root to break and sink as well, according to National Science Foundation, a U.S. government research agency.

94% of Zealand is now submerged – but some parts of the continent are still above ground, making up New Zealand and other small islands. The highest point in Zealand is the Aoraki – Mount Cook at 3,724 meters (12,218 feet).

There are still many unknown to the continent and whether the discovery of Zealand could change historical climate models. As more research emerges, the interactive website and maps will be updated to reflect what we know, GNS Science said.

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