Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant past,
it seemed the entire world was obsessed with the discovery of new lands.
Every island found
even the smallest and most useless became a sensation
and guaranteed the discoverer eternal glory.
But that was quite some time ago.
Now, any and every point on the planet can be viewed from space.
It seems that all of our earthly riddles and mysteries have disappeared,
never to return again.
It appears there’s not a single place left on the globe
that hasn’t been studied by man.
We now live with the firm conviction
that the earth is covered with a huge amount of water
which separates our seven continents.
But what if somehow, we’ve managed to miss
the proverbial giant elephant in the room.
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Recently, scientists discovered that
there are actually eight continents.
Welcome to Zealand
or the Tasmanian continent.
Perhaps the most outstanding geographical discovery on our planet
since the time we first traveled to Antarctica in 1820.
But first a little theory when it comes to really big things,
sometimes scientists have trouble classifying them.
Many of you are probably aware of
the recent controversy over Pluto, where it was deprived of the title of planet.
The same goes with continents.
So far, there’s no perfect definition of what one is.
According to Wikipedia,
a continent is a large hunk of the earth’s crust,
most of which isn’t covered by ocean.
But large is a relative term
and what pieces of land are considered large
is the subject of ongoing disputes.
Furthermore, when people say continents,
they generally mean dry land,
the part that rises above sea level,
not all agree with this distinction either.
Today, all of the continents have already been thoroughly and exhaustively studied
and it seemed that nothing new no more surprises
could ever appear again on our globe.
That’s why this discovery was so unexpected and
following the course of events which took place is like
reading a really good detective novel.
Scientists have long suspected the existence of another continent.
The geological structure of the islands of New Zealand and New Caledonia showed that
they could be from one single sunken continent,
exploring the depths of the ocean waters around New Zealand.
Scientists discovered a strange pattern.
First, some information.
The entire earth’s crust is divided into two parts.
Oceanic and Continental.
The oceanic part consists mainly of basalt and
the continental part mainly of granite
which is quite well known to us.
So, during their study of the site in the Pacific Ocean
near New Zealand and New Caledonia.
Researchers unexpectedly stumbled upon a vast layer of granite,
which by all indications could only belong to a sunken continent.
They soon discovered a number of different types of rocks,
火山岩 沉积岩 以及变质岩
volcanic, sedimentary and metamorphic,
none of which could have been created on the ocean floor.
After trying to establish the size of this unusual territory,
the following strange fact was discovered.
It turns out that the ocean floor near New Zealand
begins at a depth of 3,280 feet or about 1,000 meters.
This continues for a while and then hits a precipice
with a sudden drop-off.
When the researchers finally reached the bottom,
the results stunned them.
The oceanic crust there is at a depth of
as much as 9,800 feet or more than 3,000 meters.
Thus was revealed the first signs of a continent,
a huge range in height.
From the depths of the ocean floor
to the highest point in New Zealand the Cook Mountains,
the distance is 12,217 feet or 3,724 meters.
A second piece of evidence testifying to Zealand as a separate continent
was an analysis of rocks from a seabed.
Over the past 20 years,
geologists have extracted samples from different parts of the ocean.
They discovered an amazing thing.
The oceanic crust near Zealand consists of basaltic rocks
that have arisen relatively recently,
and the surface of the seafloor surrounding the island
includes a variety of different materials,
among which are sandstone, limestone and granite.
Their age is measured in millennia,
which corresponds to the structure of a continental crust.
After decades of research,
experts were able to determine
the boundaries and structure of this hidden continent.
For this, they had to resort to the use of satellites.
Thanks to these images from space,
they managed to refine a map showing the seafloor in detailed relief.
The latest data showed that
a narrow strip of oceanic crust appeared
between Australia and the underwater mountain chain of Zealand.
The emergence of this natural boundary
has only one explanation.
The process of these areas
becoming detached began a very long time ago,
so more than just a sliver of Australia
is hidden under the Tasman Sea.
So, Zealand covers a huge territory.
Yet, it is mostly hidden under the waters of
the southwest part of the Pacific Ocean.
Think of this new continent is being kind of like an iceberg.
We observe only small pieces of the land poking up above the surface.
That’s not to say they are tiny.
New Zealand and New Caledonia together
are about equal in area to the territory of France
and there are several tiny islands and reefs as well.
The visible part of the continent then
is only about 7% of its total area.
The underwater part of Zealand,
the Tasmanian continent, consists mainly of two parallel ridges,
separated by a relatively shallow fault
which turns into a plateau.
The ridges are at an altitude of 3,300 to 4,900 feet
or 1,500 meters relative to the seabed.
Virtually, the entire area of the mountain tops
are undergoing volcanic processes.
If it were possible to raise the whole of Zealand to the surface
Before our eyes would appear a magnificent mountain range,
its beauty and diversity of terrain
eclipsing all existing mountain ranges of the world.
But living on the mainland of the Tasmanian continent,
most likely would end in tragedy.
Is there’s enough magma waiting in the depths of the crust
to turn Zealand into something like a super-sized Pompeii?
So, when did this mysterious 8th continent come into being?
The same as its bigger siblings.
About 500 million years ago in the southern hemisphere.
there was a supercontinent we call Gondwana,
包括现在的南极洲 印度 非洲 南美洲
which included Antarctica, India, Africa, South America,
Australia and New Zealand.
In the Mesozoic era, 180 million years ago,
Gondwana began to gradually break apart.
Over time, the modern continents we now know
appeared and settled into their new digs.
Antarctica, Australia and Ceylon
separated and moved in different directions
with seas forming in the spaces between them.
However, Zealand has one unusual property.
Just before the breakup,
the surface of Gondwana underwent considerable convulsions,
which led to the expansion of the so called Tasmanian continent.
In turn, this increasing area substantially
degraded the continental crust layer.
Unlike the thicker continental crust of other continents,
the surface of Zealand began to settle,
which led to its gradual retreat under the water.
As studies of the sunken plateaus have shown
the surface of the continent was once upon a time covered with forest.
In particular, pines
the age of which belongs to the Jurassic period,
it also turns out that during a glacial period.
Most of the Tasmanian continent was still a terrestrial
rather than marine environment.
In 2006, the jaws of a fossilized mammal from that era
were lifted from the seabed.
From the massive flooding,
the continent moved further down the road to desolation
and frequent eruptions of volcanoes,
soon turned most remaining living things into future fossils.
The maximum level of immersion of the continent
occurred about 30 million years ago
and now it’s slowly rising upwards again.
This phenomenon is mostly associated with the movement of tectonic plates.
It’s predicted that tens of millions of years from now,
the movement of the Australian plate will finally break Zealand in half,
which will obviously lead to a radical change in the landscape.
Compared to other continents,
Zealand seems to be quite the dwarf.
Its area is just shy of 4.9 million square kilometers.
It’s not much larger than India
or about half the size of Europe.
The movement of the plates belonging to this newly discovered continent
are unlikely to much alter the maps of seismologists
or affect the risk level regarding global cataclysms.
However, scientists insist that
this discovery should be immediately noted and inscribed on all of our world maps.
An interesting fact,
the group of scientists who discovered this Tasmanian continent,
came from the same area as the continent these Pacific territories.
But their research could hardly be called Populist.
It should be noted though,
that changes to the Earth’s map are fraught with problems
and can change the alignment of forces in the world political arena.
It’s quite simple though.
The economic borders of an area
should run along its natural boundaries.
In particular, such a method is indicated in
the United Nations Convention of the law of the sea,
which also considers the actual geological boundaries of a continent.
As those running along its continental shelves,
Recognition of the boundaries of this new continent
would automatically increase the territory of any country existing on it.
And that’s not all.
A state to which a continental plate belongs,
as greater rights to develop minerals and other resources existing on that plate.
Today, the world is in a cutthroat search for new sources of energy,
given that way back
when Zealand and Antarctica were part of a single whole
and that in the South Pole region were recently discovered giant deposits of gas ad oil
The new continent may well prove to be a golden goose,
where those who live on it.
But even if Zealand proves to be useless in terms of resources,
it will still have a tremendous scientific impact,
Giving us new information about movements of the continental crust,
This would be another confirmation for the theory of continental drift
and would help us more accurately predict
how the future landscape of the earth will change.
Meanwhile, the world of science is waiting for the date of March 2nd 2020
and the opening of the world geological Congress,
where this revolutionary discovery will be discussed.
Most likely, the Commission will agree with the conclusions of the researchers,
which means that
all of our maps and atlases will forever change.