Yes, you read it right; there are eight and not seven continents in the world. Zealandia, also known as Te Riu-a-Maui or Tasmantis, is the Earth’s lost 8th continent of the world. Zealandia is almost entirely submerged under the Pacific Ocean and is said to be separated from the Gondwanaland around 83-79 million years ago. The continent broke off from Antarctica approximately 100 million years ago and then from Australia about 80 million years ago. Zealandia is located in the South Pacific Ocean and is close to Australia. It is said that the size of the continent around 5 million square kilometers in size. However, only 6 percent of the land is above sea level. Since so much landmass is underwater, the total breadth of the continent is yet to be defined.
Discovery Of The Continent
An experienced Dutch sailor, Abel Tasman, was on a mission back in 1642. He was very that there is a huge landmass that is undiscovered, and certainly he was determined to find it. At that time, Australia was known to the Europeans. However, they thought that it was not the legendary continent they were looking for. Later it was named after Terra Australis when they change their minds.
On August 14, Able sailed from his company’s base in Jakarta, Indonesia, with two small ships headed towards west, then south, then east. Eventually, they ended up on the South Island of New Zealand. At his first encounter with the local Māori people, several paddled out on a canoe and rammed into a small boat that was passing messages between the Dutch ships on day two. Four Europeans lost their lives. Later 11 canons were fired. That was the end of the mission. Tasman named the fateful location as Moordenaers (Murderers) Bay.
It was then, in 2017, a group of geologists hit the headlines when they announced their discovery of Zealandia-Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language. They reported that it was a vast continent, around 6 times the size of Madagascar. Though the maps, encyclopedias recognize only seven continents, the geologists boldly informed the world that this was wrong. There are eight continents in all. Zealandia has broken all records of being the smallest, thinnest, and the youngest continent of the world. However, it is just the beginning; all the hidden secrets are submerged under a layer of water that is 2km deep. What kind of life was there on the landmass? How were their lifestyles? And how long has it been submerged underwater? All these questions are to be answered out.
More About Zealandia
Zealandia is a long narrow microcontinent, submerged under the Pacific Ocean. Zealandia is a very tectonically active region. One part of the continent is on the Australian plate, while the other is on the Pacific plate. The northern part of the continent is highly volcanic. There are as many as 6 major regions with active volcanoes. The largest active volcanic zone is the Taupo Volcanic Zone.
The submerged region is also said to be rich in minerals. However, the New Zealand government dominantly controls all the undersea mining activity. There are also many natural gas fields scattered throughout Zealandia. The Maui natural gas field in the Tasman Sea is the largest.
The group of geologists confirmed that Zealandia completes all the requirements of being a continent. It should be considered as a submerged continent rather than a microcontinent. But, as more and more research is being done, there are many things that are unfolded. It is time for the maps to adopt this change and accept Zealandia as the 8th continent.