The 7th continent sitting right under our noses
New Zealand has been getting more and more attention as of late, but the small island nation now appears to be the star of its very own continent, Zealandia.
Along with New Caledonia, New Zealand is one of the few parts of the newly-determined continent above the sea level, but remains part of one mass. It’s separated from the Australian plate by the Cato Trough.
The four characteristics that define a continent include:
- Land that pokes up relatively high from the ocean floor
- A diversity of three types of rocks: igneous (spewed by volcanoes), metamorphic (altered by heat/pressure), and sedimentary (made by erosion)
- A thicker, less-dense section of crust compared to surrounding ocean floor
- “Well-defined limits around a large enough area to be considered a continent rather than a microcontinent or continental fragment”
Researchers have agreed on the first three for some time, but new data confirms the fourth.
Feel free to share with the kids to cause a commotion in geography class.
Rocking the geography world.
Photo credit: N. Mortimer et al./GSA TodayPosted by Kate Rinsema