Zealandia, the submerged continent

In an unprecedented event, a group of geology specialists revealed the existence of a seventh continent: Zealandia. This would have an area of ​​approximately 5 million square kilometers, and has been the subject of research since the 1980s.

However, it was only until 2017 that conclusive results could be obtained as the conclusion of various studies. Some of the findings indicate that Zealandia is 94% submerged, and only the remaining 6% emerges to the surface. This forms the territories of New Caledonia and the northern islands of New Zealand.

According to experts, the geological processes that gave rise to Zealandia are unique and unprecedented in the history of our planet’s formation. These events are believed to have taken place more than 52 million years ago.

The origin of Zealandia

Apparently, the phenomena that gave rise to Zealandia were the result of ruptures by subduction. It is believed that this event affected the planet on a global scale for 5 million years; reportedly, this process was similar to a sequence of slow-moving earthquakes.

The phenomenon spread throughout the Western Pacific, while the Pacific Ring of Fire was forming. Additionally, vertical displacements of large land masses were observed in lengths of 1 to 3 kilometers in what today constitutes the New Caledonia archipelago.

During this early phase of subduction, the territories of New Caledonia and New Zealand emerged, along with a group of additional islands. This, in turn, has resulted in a change in the speed and direction of tectonic plates around the world.

Complementary aspects

Zealandia is a landmass equivalent to 2 times the area of ​​India, which separated from Antarctica and Australia more than 80 million years ago. Subsequently, the continent was shaped and submerged by the same tectonic forces that created the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The latter is an area characterized by the presence of volcanoes and frequent earthquakes, which extends longitudinally along the western side of America. From this sector it moves even further west through the Pacific Ocean, until it reaches New Zealand.

This scenario generated transcendental changes, such as the modification of marine currents and a radical change in the global climate. Similarly, forced both evolution and alteration in migration of various species of animals.

Other important facts about Zealandia

Some studies carried out in the 1970s suggested that Zealandia’s low profile was due to the thinning of its crust. This fact, in turn, was due to the detachment of another supercontinent known as Gondwana, 85 million years ago.

For many of the researchers, the geological processes that took place in the sinking of Zealandia are unparalleled in the world. Likewise, they are now aware of the dramatic global repercussions that this type of phenomenon can entail.

Zealandia was officially recognized as a continent only in 2017, time in which a detailed mapping of its characteristics was carried out. This was only possible after several discoveries made in the 1990s, when the idea of ​​Zealandia as a continent gained strength.

This discovery was only possible thanks to satellite technology and the use of a powerful software that involved the joint effort of several nations. This resulted in a map of the hidden continent. Many expect it to start appearing on world maps in the near future.

Interactivity for the curious

Similarly, today it is possible to enter a multitude of interactive platforms that allow you to get in touch with the Zealandia of the past. In this way, it is possible to perceive the appearance that this continent had millions of years ago and understand the transformations that the planet has undergone until it is what we know today.

The utility of these tools lies in providing context through accurate and up-to-date images of what Zealandia was like. At the same time, it explains the configuration of volcanoes and the way in which tectonic plates act to give rise to the physical geography of a territory.

The submerged Zealandia has a narrow and elongated appearance, with widths ranging between 10 and 40 kilometers in length. The highest point of elevation is Mount Cook, with 3724 meters above sea level, which is in New Zealand. The deepest place is at 4000 meters, in what is known as the oceanic abyssal plains.

What the specialists say

Throughout this extensive investigative process, without a doubt, the leading role has been in the head of New Zealand scientistsmainly in those that make up the New Zealand Scientific Center, whose acronym in English is GNS.

Much of the information obtained was the result of records made with very sophisticated technology. Underwater sensors, research vessels equipped with 3D scanners, and satellite information including images were used.

These findings have allowed the scientific community to better and more widely understand the geological processes that occurred on the planet. This information will result in the development of more accurate prediction models in the future.

All this has practical application in the possibility of taking timely measures regarding climate change. Likewise, it will help in the prevention of risks generated by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, among other aspects.

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