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In this photo taken in February, 2000, the coastline of Kaitoke beach on New Zealand's Great Barrier Island is seen from the air. New Zealand's government yielded to public pressure Tuesday, July 20, 2010 to scrap a proposal that would have allowed mining in some of the country's most pristine landscapes including parts of Great Barrier Island. (AP Photo/The New Zealand Herald, Kenny Rodger) ** NEW ZEALAND OUT, FAIRFAX AUSTRALIA OUT **

The 'lost continent' Zealandia could begin appearing on world maps everywhere


Roughly two weeks ago, researchers discovered a "lost continent" near Mauritius. Now, scientists are saying there could be another one submerged in the South Pacific known as Zealandia,  according to the scientific journal "GSA Today." 

It was previously thought that Zealandia was a collection of partly submerged continental fragments. However, new research suggests that its isolation from Australia and large surface area more appropriately fit the definition of a continent, which according to the Glossary of Geology, is "one of the Earth's major land masses, including both dry land and continental shelves."

Continents, moreover, generally have the following attributes: high elevation, distinctive geology, a thicker crust than the ocean's floor, and well-defined limits.

Ninety-four percent of the "lost continent" is submerged as a result of the Earth's crustal thinning. Its discovery, according to "GSA Today," "provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup."

Zealandia is also two-thirds the size of its neighbor, Australia, the BBC reported.

"The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list," the scientists wrote in their study.

"That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it [important]... in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust."

There is no formal scientific body that recognizes continents, so it's a matter of time to see if Zealandia will start appearing on world maps. 

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