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Zelandia – the lost continent of earth

Ever wondered if there is a New Zealand then there might also be an Old Zealand?What if we told you that New Zealand is not actually a part of Oceania but of a micro continent named Zelandia hidden in the South Pacific?

Unknown to many of us, In addition to the seven continents on earth, there is an eight one discreetly hidden under the South Pacific Ocean. This long and narrow continental fragment or micro continent is named Zelandia which is also known asTeRiu-a-Māui or Tasmantis. While most of the landmass is under the ocean, a meager 6% is above sea level and known to all of us as New Zealand. The rest of it, more than one million square kilometers, lay submerged in water between Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Origins

According to geologists, Zelandia first broke away from Antarctica about a hundred million years ago alongwith Australia but separated later again eighty million years ago. It is not some elevation in the ocean floor. While geo mapping the area, the geologists found out that rock composition of that area is of continental type and not oceanic type and that the crust is much ticker than the ocean floor and has clearly defined limits. They further discovered that the elevated area above surrounding oceanic crust has its own characteristics and diverse geology. The name Zelandia was given in the year 1995 after satellite imagery showed it to be almost as big as Australia. In a very recent study it has been found out that Zealandia is more than a billion years old – double of what was previously thought.

Impact on New Zealand

New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone or the offshore area around a country is largely dependent on the area of Zealandia. A country may use any natural resources, such as oil or fish, such a zone and because of Zelandia, New Zealand had access to resources in about 4.3 million square kilometers area which is more than 15 times the amount of land above ground. Submerged Zelandia is very rich in minerals as well as natural gas deposits so it is an invaluable asset to New Zealand necessary to maintain its economy.

It is not just New Zealand but other smaller islands as well that is a part of this underwater continent. In the northern end of this ancient continent is New Caledonia. In Curio Bay there are logs of fossilized forests that prove that Zealandia was a terrestrial environment. Being an active volcano range means that new land masses will keep popping up. Ball’s Pyramid near Lord Howe’s island is one such breach of sea level.

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