Zealandia – new place to explore

New Zealand , the island nation has got its long lost home back . Initially New Zealand used to be regarded as part of a micro continent , not part of any continent . But after an extensive study , the geologists of New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia had concluded(2017) that the landmass on which the micro continent of New Zealand, Stewart island and Caledonia resides is actually having features similar to that of a continent . This continent has been named, Zealandia .

The landmass of Zealandia , is submerged under south pacific ocean. It is 4.9 million square km in size and almost half the size of Australia . Only 7% of the landmass is above the sea level. The landmass houses New Zealand, Stewart Island and Caledonia( group of island governed by France). The submerged part is rich in mineral deposit and is controlled by government regulations. The Mau gas field is the largest natural gas field in zealandia.

The Story of Zealandia:

Zealandia got separated from Antarctica about 100 million years ago and then again from its brother, the Australian continent about 80 million years ago.The name Zealandia was first proposed by Luyendyk (1995) as a collective name for New Zealand, the Chatham Rise, Campbell Plateau, and Lord Howe Rise.

As per the study published in geosociety , the following criteria makes Zealandia fit to be called a continent :

Elevation :- Zealandia is everywhere substantially elevated above surrounding oceanic crust and has an average elevation of 1100 m. Highest point of the landmass is Aoraki-Mount Cook at 3724 m.

Geology: Zealandia has several features as continental rift and marine events similar to Australian basin.

Crustal Structure:- The thickness and crustal density of Zealandia is in between the one of continents and oceanic crusts. Not being same as ocean basins , it qualifies to be a continent.

Limits and Area:- Size of Zealandia is approximately 12 times the size of Mauritius and 6 times the size of Madagascar. It’s equivalent to the size of greater India(comprising the Indian Subcontinent). It once made 5% of the Gondwanaland super-continent. It will be the seventh largest geological continent , being the youngest , thinnest and most submerged one.

What is a Continent:

As per dictionary , a continent is a world’s main continuous expansion of land.

The count of continents on earth vary from 4 to 7(while the count remains the same , its the models that we follow vary) .

The Four continent model – this model considers Afro – Eurasia, America(both North and South), Antarctica and Australia as the continents.

The Six continent model – this model has two formats

Combined Eurasia model – used in Russia, Eastern Europe and Japan considers Africa, Eurasia, North America, South America, Antarctica , Australia as the continents.

Combined America model – used in France, Itlay , Portugal, Spain , Romania , Latin America and Greece considers Africa , Europe, Asia, America, Antarctica, Australia as the continents.

The seven continent model – India,China, Pakistan,Phillipines, Western Europe, most English speaking countries including Australia and UK follow this. It considers Africa , Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Antarctica, Australia as the continents.

Size of continents(in square km) in decreasing order:

Asia – 43,820,000 .
Africa – 30,370,000
North America -24,490,000
South America – 17,840,000
Antarctica – 13,720,000
Europe – 10,180,000
Australia – 9,008,500
Zealandia(still to be recognised as one)- 4,900,000

Order of the continents on basis of population:
Asia – 4.3 billion
Africa -1.18 billion
Europe – 738 million
North America – 573 million
South America – 418 million
Australia – 39 million
Zealandia – 5 million
Antarctica – 4490

So guys , we have a new continent , a lot of work to be done to update our workbooks and other study materials , a lot of new places to explore.
But wait , the paper has just been published in GSA Society , US and has not been recognized all over. Just keep your fingers crossed .

A long way to go Zealandia…..All the best.

To read the complete paper Click the Link or follow the link below:

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