In a twist that Tolkien would have been proud of, the world might actually have a new, eighth continent… And there’s a chance you’ve already been to it.
“Zealandia” is submerged beneath the waves in the southwest Pacific Ocean, directly underneath – yes, you guessed it – New Zealand.
It spans 5 million square kilometres and New Zealand itself is just the highest part, 94% is under water. In a way, New Zealand is the tip of the iceberg.
So how has New Zealand reacted to the news? After all, it’s not every day you find out you’ve been living on a new continent. One day you’re in Australasia, the next you’re in Atlantis (sort of).
As the news broke, a range of reactions started to fly in on social media…
From the delighted…
— Nick Golledge (@nick_golledge) February 16, 2017
WE JUST GOT OUR OWN CONTINENT BOOOOM #zealandia
— bec (@Everevanss) February 16, 2017
To the witty (if a little ambitious)…
If we can drain the sea a bit we'll have a lot more coastal property!
— Philip Duncan (@PhilipDuncan) February 16, 2017
— Steve Walker (@stevewalker36) February 17, 2017
To the absurd…
— Zee (@growingupzee) February 17, 2017
As it turns out, Zealandia isn’t quite a new revelation – a group of Geologists have been battling for continent status for the last two decades.
It is back in the news thanks to a new paper published in GSA Today, the journal of the Geological Society of America. The paper argues that the “the vast, continuous expanse of continental crust, which centres on New Zealand, is distinct enough to constitute a separate continent”.
One of the problems lies in that there is no international body in charge of designating official continents, and so the researchers must hope that enough of their colleagues agree to recognize the landmass.
For now the planet earth continent count remains at seven, but do let us know what you think about making it eight in our comments section below.
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