According to a team of geologists, Zealandia, the eighth continent of the world, was fully submerged underwater around 23 million years ago. This occurred approximately 60 million years after the landmass separated from the ancient supercontinent Gondwana. Zealandia encompasses New Zealand, New Caledonia, and several other small islands.
Zealandia’s continental crust is primarily located beneath the ocean, with only a small portion remaining above water. The continent’s crust is thinner than most continents but thicker than the oceanic crust. The thinning process that caused Zealandia to sink remains unknown. To investigate this phenomenon, a team of researchers analyzed samples dredged from Zealandia, mapping and modeling the continent, as well as studying magnetic anomalies.
Researchers discovered that extensive thinning occurred from 100 to 80 million years ago, resulting in the continent’s eventual submergence. Zealandia was home to diverse plant and animal species, as evidenced by the presence of land plant spores and shells of shallow-water animals deep beneath the ocean floor. These findings shed light on how plants and animals dispersed and evolved in the South Pacific.
The discovery of Zealandia provides crucial insights into the geological and biological history of the region. The breakup of Gondwana gave rise to various continents, including South America, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, India, Australia, and Antarctica. Zealandia’s creation during this process explains the migration and evolution of plant and animal species in the South Pacific.
Further research and exploration of Zealandia will contribute to our understanding of Earth’s geological and biological past. The study detailing the formation and evolution of Zealandia has been published in the journal Tectonics.
– Tectonics journal (study source)