Welcome to Zealandia, but remember to take your snorkel
Wellington — New Zealand sits atop a previously unknown continent — mostly submerged beneath the South Pacific — that should be recognised with the name Zealandia, scientists said on Friday. Researchers said Zealandia was a distinct geological entity and met all the criteria applied to earth’s seven other continents — elevation above the surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area and a crust much thicker than that found on the ocean floor. A paper published in the Geological Society of America’s Journal, GSA Today, said Zealandia measured five million square kilometres and was 94% underwater. The paper’s authors said it had only three major landmasses, New Zealand’s North and South Islands to the south, and New Caledonia to the north. The scientists, mostly from the official New Zealand research body, GNS Science, said Zealandia was once part of the Gondwana super-continent but broke away about 100-million years ago.