In 2017, a group of geologists made headlines for announcing the discovery of Zealandia – the eighth continent.
Spanning over 1.89 million sq miles (4.9 million sq km), it was said to be around six times the size of Madagascar.
It was named Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language.
Though the world’s maps, encyclopaedias, and search engines had been stuck on the fact that there are just seven continents, the group of geologists confidently told the masses that their perception was wrong.
So, after all, there are eight continents in the world. The eighth one had been hiding in plain sight all along.
The latest addition breaks all the records in the world – the smallest, thinnest, and youngest one.
According to the discovery, the new continent is 94% underwater. With a handful of islands, just like New Zealand, it is thrusting out from its oceanic depths.
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“This is how something very obvious can take a long time to uncover,” said Andy Tulloch, a geologist at the New Zealand Research Institute GNS Science, a member of the team that discovered Zealandia.
Four years on, and Zealandia is as enigmatic as ever. Its secrets are jealously beneath 6,560 ft (2km) of water. Questions arise: How was it formed? What lived there? And, for how long has it been underwater?
But this is just the beginning. In 1642, Abel Tasman, a Dutch sailor, was confident that the southern hemisphere had a vast continent and was keen to find it.
He had envisaged, and then he did not return.
However, now we know that Tasman was right after all. There was indeed an undiscovered continent that we didn’t know about.
As per geologists, Zealandia is a continent due to the kinds of rocks found there. It is thin and submerged. The ocean floor is made up of igneous rocks such as basalt.
It is still unclear how Zealandia stayed so evident and disguised for so long!