Lost continent under New Zealand

SCIENTISTS have announced they believe an eighth continent exists.

Zealandia has all the characteristics needed to be considered a continent, a study found. So what do we know about the landmass?

What is Zealandia?

Zealandia is a landmass almost completely submerged by the Pacific Ocean, reports The Sun.

Its only point above sea level is New Zealand's two main islands and New Caledonia - the proposed continent's highest 'mountain range'.

A further five million square kilometres - or 95 per cent of the landmass - are underwater.

Its western ridge is believed to lie several hundred miles off Australia's east coast - although some scientists have suggested land bridges could once have connected the two masses.

Scientists studying Zealandia say it has several of the key characteristics of a continent, including a distinctive geology, and an elevation above the surrounding sea bed.

It is believed to have been a part of the Gondwana supercontinent but broke away about 100 million years ago.

Scientists have been gathering data to prove the case for Zealandia for more than 20 years.

Lead author of the study Nick Mortimer said: "What we hope is that Zealandia will appear on world maps, in schools, everywhere.

"I think the revelation of a new continent is pretty exciting."

A mission has also set sail to recover sediments and rocks lying deep beneath the sea bed in a bid to discover more about the drowned world.

The recovered cores will be studied on-board drill ship Joides Resolution, allowing scientists to address issues such as oceanographic history, extreme climates, sub-sea floor life, plate tectonics and earthquake-generating zones.

Expedition to help solve mystery of underwater continent near Australia
Expedition to help solve mystery of underwater continent near Australia Supplied

WHAT ARE THE OTHER CONTINENTS?

The Earth is generally considered by scientists to have seven continents:

• Africa - 29,448,000 sq km

• Asia - 43,823,000 sq km

• Europe - 10,179,000 sq km

• North America - 24,501,000 sq km

• South America - 17,845,000 sq km

• Oceania - 9,008,500 sq km

• Antarctica - 13,727,000 sq km

Some scientists consider the Europe and Asia landmass to be one single continent called Eurasia.

Africa, Asia and Europe are connected continuously via Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and can be referred to as Afro-Eurasia.

Together it constitutes more than half the world's landmass - 32,811,166 sq miles.

North and South American are also considered as one continent by some studies.

This story first appeared on The Sun.

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