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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