Scientists discover ancient submerged continent that was missing for 375 years
Scientists have finally found a continent that was once part of the ancient Gondwana land.
The continent called Zealandia—Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language—is believed to be approximately 94 per cent under the sea, while the remaining 6 per cent makes up New Zealand and surrounding islands.
It was first said to be discovered by Dutch businessman and sailor Abel Tasman in 1642, who was desperate to uncover the "Great Southern Continent".
However, he was unable to find the approximate location. It wasn’t until 2017 that geologists discovered that the continent had been hiding in plain sight all along.
Now on Tuesday, an international team of geologists and seismologists published a refined map of Zealandia in the journal ‘Tectonics’.
They were able to presume its form and structure by using the data obtained from dredged rock samples recovered from the ocean floor.
They came to the conclusion by studying the geologic patterns in West Antarctica which then led them to understand the possibility of a subduction zone near the Campbell Plateau off the west coast of New Zealand.
The researchers refined the existing maps of Zealandia by studying collections of rocks and sediment samples brought up from the ocean bed. While most of these samples came from drilling sites, others came from the shores of islands in the area.
The geologists at New Zealand Crown Research Institute GNS Science admitted that though most of the newfound continent is underwater, it took time for something "very obvious" to be uncovered.
"[It's] a process which we don't completely understand yet, Zealandia started to be pulled away," Tulloch explained, indy100.com reported.
They further said that they are trying to figure out when did Zealandia started to “pull away” from the supercontinent Gondwana, which included most of Western Antarctica and Eastern Australia, over 500 million years ago.