Zealandia, also known as the 8th continent of the world, is an almost entirely submerged mass of continental crust that subsided after breaking away from Gondwanaland 83–79 million years ago. Zealandia and the Australian continent were part of Antarctica continents and gradually broke apart from Antarctica about 100 million years ago, and then from Australia about 80 million years ago.
One of the earth’s sizeable continuous landmass is known as the continent. In geography, there are two types of geographical component. As per the physical geography (which is above sea level and has emerged from the sea), there are 7 continents of the world– North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. Geologically if we speak, there is continental crust in the 7 continents mentioned, but the same continental crust was found in Zealandia as well. Geology studies about the rocks and if geology differentiates between continental rocks and oceanic rocks. The continental composition of Zealandia was similar to that of Australia and Asia, which is why this region was considered a continent.
About 3,500 feet under the Pacific Ocean, sits the lost 8th continent, Zealandia. As compared to other continents, Zealandia is a size of a pint, about 4.8 million sq km. It is a little bigger than India and is half the size of Europe. Zealandia is half the size of the Australian continent and also the world’s largest current microcontinent. Due to this and other geological considerations, such as crustal thickness and density, it is considered to be a continent.
Zealandia Country and its Capitals
New Zealand is a country which is part of both Oceania and Zealandia Continent, the official language of this region is English, Māori and NZ Sign Language. The total population of New Zealand is 4,822,233 as of 2020 and the surface area of New Zealand is about 268,021 sq. Km.
New Zealand is divided into two parts North Island and South Island. The capital of this country is Wellington which is in the southern region of the north island.
Dependent territories of the Zealandia Continent.
New Caledonia is a unique region of France, located 1,210 km east of Australia, which is the southwestern region of the Pacific Ocean. The official language of this region is French.
New Caledonia is divided into three provinces North, South, and Loyalty Islands provinces which has a population of 285,498 as of May 2020. The total surface area of New Caledonia is about 18,576 sq. Km.
Classification as a continent
Zealandia being the 8th continent of the world has been around for some time. Geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk found this and term this continent as Zealandia in 1995. Over the ten years of span, the dedicated study in this continent has determined that it is not just a group of islands and fragments. Still, there is potential continental crust large and separate enough to be officially declared as a different continent. Eleven geologists from New Caledonia, New Zealand, and Australia concluded that Zealandia fulfills all the requirements to be considered a drowned continent, rather than a microcontinent or continental fragment, in the year 2017. The news media widely covered this verdict.
Zealandia is divided by scientists into North Zealandia, which is known as the Western Province, and South Zealandia, also known as the Eastern Province. The Southern part contains most of the Median Batholith crust. These two parts of the continent are separated by the Kermadec Trench and the Alpine Fault and by the wedge-shaped Hikurangi Plateau and are moving separately.
Zealandia usually enjoys mild and temperate climatic conditions. Zealandia’s islands have glaciers, Tasman Glacier in the South Island being the largest. New Caledonia on the other hand has a tropical climate like the South Pacific and Oceania. Earth’s mysterious 8th continent doesn’t appear on the most conventional maps; that’s because almost 95% of its land is submerged thousands of feet beneath the Pacific Ocean.
Zealandia has a very active tectonic activity in their area. One part of the microcontinent is on the Australian plate, whereas the other part is on the Pacific plate.
The northern part of Zealandia is exceptionally volcanic. There are six significant areas with active volcanoes, and the largest one is the Taupo Volcanic Zone on the North Island. The geothermal activity caused by the collision of the Australian and Pacific plates also means that there are many hot springs and natural geysers scatter throughout the newly discovered continent Zealandia.
Both the South and North Islands have volcanic mountain ranges running through their centers. The North Island Volcanic Plateau dominates the North Island, while the Southern Alps being the primary mountain range of the South Island’s. Because of the process know as tectonic uplift, both mountain ranges are slowly getting higher.
Zealandia is rich in mineral deposits in its submerged region, although New Zealand’s government is strictly controlling the undersea mining activity. There are many natural gas fields scattered throughout Zealandia. The largest among them is in the Tasman Sea known as The Maui natural gas field.
Underwater Zealandia is of value to science as well as to business. During glacial periods, sea levels started falling, and more of this region began to emerge above water. Zealandia’s submerged fossils provide valuable clues to life during those periods.
Zealandia today has a total population of about 5 million people.
New Zealand – 4,823,193
New Caledonia – 268,767
Norfolk Island – 2,210
Lord Howe Island Group – 382
Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs – 0
Zealandia – The 8th Continent of the World
Zealandia is an excellent example that the large and the obvious in natural science can be overlooked. Based on various geophysical and geological evidence, particularly those collected in the last two decades, we can say that this region is not a collection of partly submerged continental fragments but is a coherent 4.9 sq km continent. There are no changes required to any currently used conventions and definitions of continental crust, continents, and microcontinents to accommodate Zealandia as a continent.
Satellite gravity data sets, New Zealand’s UNCLOS program, and marine geological expeditions have significantly influenced the big picture view necessary to define and give recognition to this new continent. This region is approximately greater than India. Like Asia, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, and South America, Zealandia was also a former part of the Gondwana supercontinent. Zealandia is the seventh-largest geological continent; it is the most submerged and the youngest continent of the world. Grouping this region as a continent is much more than just an addition on a list that a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented, making it a useful and a new emerging continent of the world.