By now I am sure you must be heard that there are only seven continents in the world. You must be surprised to know that there is another continent that is below the water. Let’s go to this surprising world of Zealandia, probably the 8th continent. According to the radiometric dating of meteoroids, the earth came into being 4.5 or 4.6 billion years ago. According to scientists, as a result of the big bang, the solar system came into being. Earlier this solar system consisted of seven planets out of which three were big and gaseous planets and four others. With the passage of time as a result of gravitational power, these planets absorbed millions of meteoroids and small planet-like structures
According to scientists, the earth at the time of its birth was volcanic. And with the passage of time, these lava layers were frozen. During this period, Theia planet collided with the earth and became part of it. But, a part of the earth became its moon.
How the Earth Came into being?
Somewhere lava gathered, and seismic plates moved to form rocks and mountains. It is estimated there are 15-20 big seismic plates.
How life was Born on Earth?
According to geologists, volcanoes not only produced lava but gases too. It gave birth to the atmosphere which started the process of photosynthesis. As oxygen was produced, it caused water to begin to accumulate on earth and the very first cell on the earth.
What was Pangaea and How was it Divided?
During the process of life, there were two parts on earth. One part consisted of water and the other of land. The land part was called Pangaea, and all continents were part of it. This great continent began to divide into two parts 500-550 million years ago. Earthquakes and movement of seismic plates continued till 300 million years ago. And, Pangaea got divided into two parts. Seismic plate movement also caused the formation of earthquakes.
According to scientists, millions of years ago sub-continent was not part of Asia. Rather, it was part of Australia. And movements of seismic plate movement caused it to place in Asia.
According to geologic, the Oceania continent is slipping towards the sub-continent. It might be possible that after millions of years it will be a part of Asia.
How Continents came into Being?
Pangaea got divided into two parts. one of which was Laurasia. It included Europe, Asia, and North America. The other one was called Gondwana. It included Africa, South America, Arabian Peninsula, Antarctica, and the Indian Subcontinent.
It is estimated that 850 million years ago Gondwana got divided into larger parts. And one of these parts is underwater which is called the 8th continent. It is named Zelandia.
1. How did Zealandia Get Discovered?
In 1642, Abel Tasman, a Dutch sailor set sail for the imaginary island of the province of Beach in search of gold. Marco polo named this island. Tasman had a map with him according to which this area was extremely north of the Terra Australis continent.
Tasman started its journey from Batavia, a Dutch colony, which is called Jakarta now. He headed towards the Solomon Islands but was blown away towards the northeast by strong winds and snowfall. After 17 days they got to see the land. They named it Wendymans Land, which was later called Tasmania, after the name Tasman.
He continued his journey towards the north. When he got to know that there is no land ahead, he headed east with his compass. On 13 December 1642, he saw a piece of land in the northwest, which is now a part of New Zealand. Tasman thought he had discovered the western part of Terra Australis, an imaginary continent, which stretches across the Pacific Ocean to the southern tip of South America.
He headed first north then east for 5 days, but native Maori warriors of New Zealand attacked him. Tasman escaped. He believed that he discovered a new continent, but he didn’t know that 94% of this earth was under water.
When geologists carried out their research in the region in 1895, they came to know that New Zealand is the peak of a continent that stretches far to the east and south.
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2. Location of Zealandia
In 1995, American geo-physicist Bruce P. Luyendyk explicitly declared the region of Gondwana as a continent and suggested that it be renamed Zealandia.
Research continued and in 1917, a group of geologists announced the discovery of a new continent that had an area of 49-50 lac square kilometers. Its one country is New Zealand and some islands New Caledonia, lord Howe island, and Ball’s pyramid, are above the water while the rest of the area is underwater.
But, the mystery still continues. Although, satellite images have been prepared of this continent, but it is yet to be accepted as the 8th continent. That’s why New Zealand and Caledonia and other islands are still considered parts of the Oceania continent.
Some geologists don’t consider them a part of Oceania because they are far from the latter. Experts say that if the map of the solid surface of the Earth had been formed, then Zealandia would have been recognized as a continent till today. It is estimated that before the partition of Gondwana, Zealandia covered 5% of it.
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3. Why it has gone Underwater?
Experts say that the continental crust is almost 40km thick. With the passage of time crust of Zealandia got decreased to 20km gradually, and this continent started to drown. There are large boulders on the bottom of Zealandia. The layer is composed of volcanic rocks, metaphoric and wasabi rocks. It has also granite rocks.
Experts are analyzing why despite its thin layers, why this continent did not break into parts. And how many years ago it was completely out of water? One view is that this continent must have been underwater 25 million years ago, but then due to some reasons, it would have come out of the water like other islands.
The highest point in Zealandia is Aoraki Mount Cook. It is 3724 meters above. Most of its part is underwater.
4. Living Creatures
Gondwana was quite moderate, so a large number of plants and living organisms were found there. it is estimated that there might be still remains of these animals on this planet. Many carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs have been discovered in the rest of New Zealand.
Experts believe that it is impossible to find the remains on the bottom ocean layer. In 2017, a team dug up to 1250 meters underwater. During this time they found reproductive cells, skeleton, and pollens.
5. Natural Resources of Zealandia
Although Zealandia is moderate in temperature, there are glaciers also. Out of these glaciers, Tasman is the biggest glacier. There is a lot of seismic plate activity in the area where Zealandia is located. Mild earthquakes keep coming there and there are volcanoes also in the northern area of New Zealand. Underwater Zealandia is also full of natural resources especially gas is common there.
6. Similarities between Madagascar and Zealandia
A bird of the genus kiwi, a beautiful bird, is found in New Zealand. Hundreds of years ago, it was also found in Madagascar. So, we can say that Madagascar was a part of Gondwana, and it might be possible that it was also a part of Zealandia. Prior to 2017, Zealandia had been recognized as a small or micro-continent like Madagascar.