New maps released on June 21 show new details of Zealandia's geology and topography.

Zealandia: New maps expose New Zealand’s dropped underwater continent

After part of the same land mass as Antarctica and Australia, the shed continent of Zealandia broke off 85 million years ago and finally sank beneath the ocean, the place it stayed mainly hidden for generations.

Now, maps reveal new investigation about the underwater continent where dinosaurs after roamed — and allow for the community to virtually examine it.

GNS Science, a New Zealand investigate institute, released two new maps and an interactive internet site on Monday. The maps cover the condition of the ocean flooring and Zealandia’s tectonic profile, which collectively assistance notify the tale of the continent’s origins.
The maps also assist make clear the placing of New Zealand’s volcanoes, sedimentary basins, and other geological characteristics, explained GNS Science in a news launch.

People today around the earth can investigate the continent from their own residences the interactive web-site exhibits distinctive kinds of maps of Zealandia, which consumers can layer and toggle as they like. For occasion, you could identify all the ancient and modern day volcanoes on the continent, or see where on the land mass ridges are still spreading.

“These maps are a scientific benchmark — but they are also extra than that. They’re a way of communicating our do the job to our colleagues, stakeholders, educators and the community,” claimed geologist Dr. Nick Mortimer, the direct writer of the maps, in the launch.

“We have produced these maps to give an correct, finish and up-to-date photo of the geology of the New Zealand and southwest Pacific spot — far better than we have had in advance of.”

How the continent sank

The concept of a potential continent in this place has been close to for some time, and the title “Zealandia” was to start with coined by geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk in 1995.

The devoted review of this region, stretching about 5 million sq. kilometers (about 1.93 million sq. miles), has because determined it is not just a group of continental islands and fragments, but a continental crust huge and separate plenty of to be formally declared a individual continent.

Zealandia utilized to be element of Gondwana, the supercontinent that after held many of the continents we know these days, like Africa and South The united states.

About 85 million years ago, Zealandia split off from Gondwana. The drifting, shifting land mass, about 50 percent the dimensions of Australia, was dwelling to dinosaurs and lush rainforest.

Then, tens of millions of many years later on, the world’s tectonic plates — items of the Earth’s crust — started reorganizing themselves, in a time period of dramatic geological adjust that also made the Pacific “Ring of Hearth,” a belt in the Pacific where the world’s most active volcanoes are found.

All through this time, the Pacific Plate — the world’s most significant tectonic plate — is thought to have sank underneath the continental crust of Zealandia. This process, referred to as subduction, brought about the root of the continent to break off and sink as nicely, according to the National Science Foundation, a US government investigation agency.

Abut 94% of Zealandia is now submerged underwater — but some sections of the continent are even now earlier mentioned land, building up New Zealand and other tiny islands. The best stage of Zealandia is Aoraki–Mount Cook at 3,724 meters (12,218 feet).

There is nonetheless a great deal not known about the continent and irrespective of whether the discovery of Zealandia could change historical climate products. As much more investigate emerges, the interactive site and maps will be up-to-date to mirror what we know, said GNS Science.

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