From our childhood, our teachers have taught us that there are seven continents in the world. However, that belief is about to change as the scientists have discovered a new continent near Australia that will not only shatter your faith in what you have been taught so far but will also make you wonder if you know anything about the Earth at all.
Meet the world’s youngest, thinnest and the most submerged continent of the world– Zealandia.
Spread across an area of nearly 5 million square kilometres, Zealandia, was formed nearly 100 million years ago and is believed to have broken away from Gondwana, an ancient supercontinent that included most land masses in the southern hemisphere including Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia and India and sank 60 million and 85 million years ago.
Data collected by the scientists suggests that 94 percent of Zealandia, which includes New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Lord Howe Island group, Elizabeth and Middleton reefs, remains submerged under the water and its highest point– Aoraki–Mount Cook is 3724m high. According to the team of scientists who made this amazing discovery, Zealandia is roughly the same size as that of greater India and is geologically separate from Australia.
Discovery of Zealandia not only adds a new name to the list of six geological continents– Australia, Eurasia (Europe and Asia), North America, South America, Australia and Antartica but also gives us thought-provoking insights into the dynamics of break-up and reshaping of the continental crust.