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Science

New Zealand May Be the Tip of a Submerged Continent (theoutline.com) 143

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Outline: A group of geologists believe it is time to name a new continent. A paper published in the March/April edition of GSA Today, the journal for the Geological Society of America, lays out the case for Zealandia as the seventh and youngest geological continent. In the past, New Zealand was thought to be part of a collection of "islands, fragments, and slices," the authors wrote, but it's now understood to be part of a solid landmass. New Zealand is essentially the highest mountains of a 1.9 million square mile landmass that is 94 percent underwater, according to the paper. The authors believe it is both large and isolated enough to qualify as a continent. They note that it is elevated relative to the oceanic crust, as befits a continent, and its distinctiveness and thickness are also on par with continents one through six. What does it matter if Zealandia is officially a continent? Reclassifying the area would encourage geologists to include it in studies of comparative continental rifting and continent-ocean boundaries.
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New Zealand May Be the Tip of a Submerged Continent

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  • It just occurred to me how appropriate New Zealand's name might be in this context: it's a New Sea-Land.
  • In Google Earth you could always easily see a shallow landmass around New Zealand, so what's new here?
    • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @07:01AM (#53904435)

      In Google Earth you could always easily see a shallow landmass around New Zealand, so what's new here?

      There are lots of interesting things abut this. For one thing it would be interesting to know exactly how much of this continent was above sea level during the last glacial maximum. The same goes for the Atlantic area. There are several islands in the Atlantic that are now either sunken, smaller than they were then or just reefs now but that would have been much larger during this period and could have served as stop-over points for people on a trans oceanic migration to N-America. There is a little flash App of the area that allows you to drop the sea levels: http://sahultime.monash.edu.au... [monash.edu.au] Seems New Zealand was at least twice as big as it is today about 20k years ago and that it was surrounded by islands that are now sunken. Makes me wish could drop sea levels in Google Earth.

  • ... the tip of something submerged?
    • by idji ( 984038 )
      The point is that Australia is a continent 94% above the ocean and Zealandia is 94% under the water, So Australia is not the "tip", but new Zealand or even Hawaii are.
      • by evanh ( 627108 )

        I think bazmail is trying to point out that there is a huge number of small islands around the planet. And that most have shallow seas around them.

        Hawaii would be an exception to this in that it's a chain of deep sea volcanoes.

        • Close, Hawaii isn't quite a chain of volcanoes. It's a series of islands that happen to catalog movement over a hotspot in the middle of the Pacific ocean. You can read more about it here [marinebio.net]. It's actually quite interesting how an island forms as the plate moves, then after moving it's no longer on the hot spot and erodes away. There's many more 'islands' underneath the ocean surface in the Hawaii chain.
  • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @05:21AM (#53904275) Homepage

    New Zealand we love you. You don't have to be like Australia. We are worried about you. Just be yourself. You don't have to be a continent.

  • 1. Africa, 2. Europe, 3. Asia, 4. North America, 5. South America, 6. Antarctica, and 7. Australia. Please tell me this is an intelligence test....
    • So you didn't read the article, then? 2. and 3. in your list are defined as 'Eurasia'.

    • Europe and Asia geologically are on the same tectonic plate.
      • When you look at it that way, makes sense.
      • It would be slightly more accurate to say that the European plate (built on the Fennoscandian and Ukrainian shields) is sutured against the Asian plate with a full-thickness low-lying trans-crustal fault with negligible remnant movement on it. The fault is still visible, and the differences on either side of it, but it has very ow activity levels. It's what we geologists call a "suture".

        The Iapetus suture runs through Norway, southern Scotland, Ireland, and displaced by the Atlantic, off into Newfoundland

  • by Plumpaquatsch ( 2701653 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @05:35AM (#53904305) Journal
    Extradite Kim Dot Com, and it will re-emerge.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because he's so fat! His weight is pushing the continent beneath the ocean.

  • Yay, my own continent at last! Take that Australia now we have one too!
    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Oh, ghu, we're never going to hear the end of this......

      Really, ozzies love kiwis, we wouldn't have anyone to look down on, otherwise.

      Or beat at rugby and cricket.

      My nephews are kiwis, I love 'em both.

      • by mikaere ( 748605 )
        Beat at the rugby ? Remind me again when you last had the Bledisloe Cup (or World Cup for that matter) ? You've got a good cricket team and a good league team, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What does it matter if Zealandia is officially a continent?

    New Zealand now gets to claim a large amount of mineral and sea resources from the continental shelf and around it.

  • You could make a better case for the whole world to be called a single continent with just 74% under water.

    Looks like Mother Earth has a better batting average than New Zealand.

    • This isn't a simple case of whether or not water is on top of land. The Earth's crust [usgs.gov] is thinner under the oceans [uwgb.edu] than under land masses.

      Basically the crust is expanding at mid-oceanic ridges [britannica.com]. The molten magma that surfaces in those regions solidifies into thin crustal plates. These plates are pushed apart until they meet resistance (other plates), and begin to bump up against each other. When they do that, the crust squashes and thickens - both above and below the water. The part that thickens abov
  • Do not confuse Zealandia with Zoolandia... ancestral home of Derek Zoolander.
  • I'm not confused about this. From my educational experience, you know what we call submerged continents?

    Ocean Floor.

    C'mon, stop this.

    • Re:What? WHAT? (Score:4, Informative)

      by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @12:35PM (#53905827)

      Ocean Floor.

      Nope. Different composition entirely. Continental plates ate lighter and 'float' on top of the mantle (exact details will better be explained by a real geologist). But the composition of continents and ocean floor is different.

      There are bits of ocean floor that just happen to be above sea level and are dry land. Zeelandia, on the other hand, is a continental plate that is largely submerged.

  • The other half should be more of a concern.

    New Zealand has long been using this submerged landmass to conceal an impressive stockpile of 20 megaton nuclear missiles.

    At this point, experienced journalists should ask:
    a. Where are those missiles aimed?
    b. Who has access to the button that launches these missiles?
    c. How many warheads are in that stockpile?
    d. How big is this submerged landmass? (How long have you known, etc)

    At that point, I guess none of this stuff matters. But fault all the Slashdot eds till the

  • Yabbut climate change is going to put it even further underwater, so what's the point?
  • Hum Hum Hum Hum Hum Hum Yes yes, New Zealand is a continent Zealandia, yes. Hum Hum Hum Hum Hum Hum
  • We saw Mordor sinking at the end of "Return of the King", so that must be the rest of the missing NZ continent.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    A group of geologists believe it is time to name a new continent.

    And seek funds to study it. It's not like they wouldn't look at it had in only been some interesting structures on the ocean floor. But now they can request a separate package of funding under it's own name.

  • They were warned, the ancient people of Zealand, but did they listen, no ! They chose "clean coal", they drilled baby, they modded their cars with coal kits...
  • Unless my grade school teacher was wrong, we already have seven continents 1) North America 2) South America 3) Europe 4) Africa 5)Asia 6) Australia 7) Antarctica So, Zealandia would be the 8th if so determined to be a continent, right????
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      Yup, this was basic fucking elementary school stuff THIRTY YEARS AGO.

      Apparently the Geological Society of America needs to go the fuck back to school.

    • Nah. Europe is more like a bunch of accreted terranes - stuff the Earth scraped off on the west side of Asia. Totally not a continent.
  • This is actually Atlantis, it has been hiding under the Pacific all these millennia!
    • I actually used to rant and rave about that exact theory when I was young and dumb some 20-odd years ago.

      Which raises the question: what exactly is the news story here? Zealandia has been at thing at least for decades.

  • If you are claiming that it isn't coastlines and land areas which make continents, but rather regions of continental rock (whether above sea level or not). If this is so, you can no longer justify counting Africa as separate from Eurasia, or North and South America being separate from each other. So you can pick between the traditional 6 continents by land area, or four or five by crustal rock (Eurasia+Africa, Americas, Antarctica, Australia, and Zealandia if you think it is big enough.)

    Incidentally, New Ze

  • One of my favorite was from a book [amazon.com] in '05 that pinned it pretty definitively in Indonesia. Although the author passed away soon after, fans of his (and some relatives) have been commenting upon some of the research at atlan.org [atlan.org], which was the first thing I thought of when news of this broke.

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