[Taxacom] Supposed new continent

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Fri Feb 17 09:54:35 CST 2017

Excerpt below from a recent web announcement. The term has been around for
a quite a long time, but so not sure about it being 'previously unknown' or
its rather patronizing nomenclature. Of course it matters not a hoot really
whether one wants to call it a continent or not. But for publicity it
certainly does.

New Zealand sits atop a previously unknown continent -- mostly submerged
beneath the South Pacific -- that should be recognised with the name
Zealandia, scientists said Friday.

Researchers said Zealandia was a distinct geological entity and met all the
criteria applied to Earth's seven other continents -- elevation above the
surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area and a crust much
thicker than that found on the ocean floor.

In a paper published in the Geological Society of America's Journal, GSA
Today, they said Zealandia measured five million square kilometre (1.9
million square miles) and was 94 percent underwater.

The paper's authors said it had only three major landmasses, New Zealand's
North and South Islands to the south, and New Caledonia to the north.

The scientists, mostly from the official New Zealand research body GNS
Science, said Zealandia was once part of the Gondwana super-continent but
broke away about 100 million years ago.

"The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more
than just an extra name on a list," they wrote.

"That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it (useful)...
in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust."

Lead author Nick Mortimer said scientists have been gathering data to make
the case for Zealandia for more than 20 years.

But their efforts had been frustrated because most of it was hidden beneath
the waves.

"If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it would be clear to everybody
that we have mountain chains and a big, high-standing continent," he told

While there is no scientific body that formally recognises continents,
Mortimer said he wanted Zealandia to become an accepted part of how the
Earth is viewed.

"What we hope is that Zealandia will appear on world maps, in schools,
everywhere," he said.

"I think the revelation of a new continent is pretty exciting."

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