Geologists suggested that Zealandia is the eighth continent, that we didn’t know yet. With its land mass of 4.9 million square kilometres, it might be the smallest continent of all, but it fulfills all the four requirements that a continent must have.
Why no one knew about it?
You might wonder. Well, it is because 94 percent of its body is submerged in water in the Pacific Ocean and the rest is known as New Zealand (the reason it’s named Zealandia) and New Caledonia.
The land was once a part of Gondwana Island and was attached to Australia, this is why it still shares it territory with Australia. The body broke from its original piece and settled itself, drowning most of its part, about 60-80 million years ago. The thickness of it is 10-30 kilometers. And the total area can be compared to that of India’s.
It is not a Eureka that happened all of a sudden, geologists from New Zealand and Australia have been making sure to call it a continent or not for as long as early 1990’s. The name Zealandia was suggested by geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk in year 1995. And now that they have, their study is explained in ‘Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent’ in the ‘GSA Today’, the journal of The Geological Society of America.
It was believed that the lands were scattered independently in that particular area, if it were to be a continent, it would have been one collected piece of mass. But after using satellite technology and gravity maps of the sea floor, it became clear that the lands are unified as one mass of which most of the part is under water. Suggesting that it remained hidden just because of the ocean above it. It could even have been above the seabed for a long time, the information about it is rather not collected.
There is no particular international body who will decide whether to call it a continent or not, it will be the sole understanding of the geologists as a whole. If they agreed then the Zealandia will be the seventh continent, not the eight, as according to them Asia and Europe combine to make one continent ‘Eurasia’.