Scientists have discovered a new continent in the Pacific Ocean

Scientists have discovered a new continent in the Pacific Ocean
Scientists have discovered a new continent in the Pacific Ocean

Scientists have discovered a new continent in the Pacific Ocean - Zealand. The famous islands of New Zealand and New Caledonia are part of it. According to geologists, Zealand can be considered a separate continent due to its structure and clear separation from the Australian continental plate. Livescience writes about this with reference to a study conducted by a group of scientists - Rupert Sutherland, Herenga Waka-Victoria and Gerald Dickens.

It is known that there are six continents on Earth (the seven continents model is popular in Western Europe, some countries in North America, Oceania and Asia). But geophysicists, starting to explore the continental crust off the east coast of Australia, have come to the conclusion that from a geological point of view, the islands of New Zealand are a separate continent, which is almost entirely under water. The study was carried out in 2017, but its final results are only made public now, as it took a long time to analyze and study the geological structures.

According to scientists, the continent of Zealand was shaken during the birth of the Pacific Ring of Fire. This huge chain of volcanoes and geological activity stretches from Australia and New Zealand along the coasts of China and Japan, the Kuril Islands, Kamchatka and Alaska - through all the mountain ranges of the Cordillera of the Americas - and ends in Tierra del Fuego.

Researchers believe that in ancient times, between 35 and 50 million years ago, the process of continental collision began in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. As a result, some areas of the Zeeland continent rose in height by as much as three kilometers, while others fell into the ocean at the same distance. Thus, the sunken continent of Zealand is the key to understanding how and why the Ring of Fire was formed.

"These dramatic changes in North Zealand, an area the size of India, coincided with warping of rock layers and the formation of submarine volcanoes in the western Pacific," said co-author of the study, geophysicist Rupert Sutherland.

"One of the amazing things about our observations is that they show that the early signs of the Ring of Fire were almost simultaneous throughout the western Pacific," the scientist continues.

The tectonic transformations that have taken place on the Zeeland continent have affected geological activity and the appearance of volcanoes along the entire western Pacific Ocean.

Also, according to researchers, the huge continent of Zealand may once again appear on the surface, emerging from the ocean depths. But this process will take over a million years.

"This would take over a million years and would represent a dramatic restructuring of the geology of the western Pacific," geophysicists say.

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