Scientists will soon venture to the world’s hidden eighth continent, the sunken land of Zealandia.
The lost continent, which is mostly submerged, with all of New Zealand and a few islands peeking out from the water, is about half the size of Australia. By drilling deep into its crust or upper layer, the new scientific expedition could provide clues about how the diving of one of Earth’s plates beneath another, a process called subduction, fueled the growth of a volcano chain and this lost continent in the Pacific Ocean 50 million years ago. The new expedition could also reveal how that Earth-altering event changed ocean currents and the climate.
“We’re looking at the best place in the world to understand how plate subduction initiates,” expedition co-chief scientist Gerald Dickens, professor of Earth, environmental and planetary science at Rice University in Texas, said in a statement. “This expedition will answer a lot of questions about Zealandia” . . .
The argument for Zealandia being a continent was based on several lines of evidence. Rocks beneath the ocean floor off New Zealand’s coast are made up of a variety of ancient rock types that are found only on continents, not in oceanic crust. The continental shelves of Zealandia are much shallower than those of the nearby oceanic crust. And, rock samples reveal a thin strip of oceanic crust separating Australia and the underwater portions of Zealandia. All of these factors suggest the area underwater around New Zealand makes up a continent, the researchers reported. (Read more from “Scientists Journey to the World’s ‘Lost’ 8th Continent” HERE)