Zealandia: New maps expose New Zealand’s lost underwater continent

New maps released on June 21 show new details of Zealandia's geology and topography.
At the time element of the exact land mass as Antarctica and Australia, the dropped continent of Zealandia broke off 85 million years in the past and sooner or later sank below the ocean, wherever it stayed mostly concealed for hundreds of years.

Now, maps expose new research about the underwater continent where by dinosaurs when roamed — and make it possible for the community to pretty much investigate it.

GNS Science, a New Zealand research institute, revealed two new maps and an interactive internet site on Monday. The maps deal with the condition of the ocean flooring and Zealandia’s tectonic profile, which collectively help convey to the tale of the continent’s origins.
The maps also assist reveal the environment of New Zealand’s volcanoes, sedimentary basins, and other geological characteristics, reported GNS Science in a news launch.

Persons close to the environment can investigate the continent from their personal households the interactive web-site displays different varieties of maps of Zealandia, which consumers can layer and toggle as they like. For instance, you could identify all the historic and modern volcanoes on the continent, or see the place on the land mass ridges are still spreading.

“These maps are a scientific benchmark — but they are also extra than that. They’re a way of speaking our function to our colleagues, stakeholders, educators and the public,” stated geologist Dr. Nick Mortimer, the direct author of the maps, in the release.

“We’ve created these maps to offer an precise, entire and up-to-date photograph of the geology of the New Zealand and southwest Pacific area — better than we have had right before.”

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How the continent sank

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

The committed review of this location, stretching about 5 million square kilometers (about 1.93 million square miles), has considering the fact that determined it is not just a team of continental islands and fragments, but a continental crust big and separate sufficient to be officially declared a independent continent.

Zealandia utilised to be element of Gondwana, the supercontinent that when held quite a few of the continents we know nowadays, like Africa and South America.

About 85 million years in the past, Zealandia split off from Gondwana. The drifting, shifting land mass, about 50 percent the size of Australia, was residence to dinosaurs and lush rainforest.

Then, hundreds of thousands of yrs afterwards, the world’s tectonic plates — pieces of the Earth’s crust — started reorganizing themselves, in a time period of extraordinary geological transform that also made the Pacific “Ring of Hearth,” a belt in the Pacific the place the world’s most lively volcanoes are found.

In the course of this time, the Pacific Plate — the world’s most significant tectonic plate — is thought to have sank under the continental crust of Zealandia. This approach, referred to as subduction, prompted the root of the continent to crack off and sink as properly, according to the Nationwide Science Basis, a US federal government investigation company.

Abut 94% of Zealandia is now submerged underwater — but some pieces of the continent are however over land, earning up New Zealand and other compact islands. The best level of Zealandia is Aoraki–Mount Cook at 3,724 meters (12,218 feet).

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There is continue to considerably unfamiliar about the continent and regardless of whether the discovery of Zealandia could transform historical local climate products. As extra research emerges, the interactive website and maps will be up to date to reflect what we know, stated GNS Science.


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