New Zealand has been part of an eighth continent all along. Zealandia – a newly-discovered continent that is 94% under water – is a 3 million-square-mile region in the southwest Pacific Ocean, which also includes the French island territory of New Caledonia.
The two island regions – New Zealand and New Caledonia – are connected by “submerged continental crust across a large area of the Earth’s surface”. The continent is “geologically separate and distinct from Australia and Antarctica” and is the youngest and thinnest continent on the planet, in addition to being the most submerged, according to the study.
Researchers at GNS Science, New Zealand’s geoscience agency, announced their discovery in a report titled “Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent.” It is slated for publication in the March-April 2017 print issue of GSA Today, the information magazine run by The Geological Society of America.
Hamish Campbell, one of the authors of the report, had suggested the theory of Zealandia back in 2007 in his book In Search of Ancient New Zealand. He had claimed that Zealandia had been completely submerged at one point and that parts of it, including New Zealand, resurfaced as a result of a collision of continental plates.
Zealandia was believed to be a “collection of continental islands, fragments and slices”. Scientists now say that the fragments earlier thought separate were all part of a big underwater continental crust.