A lost continent resembling the famed Atlantis has been unveiled in new geological maps of the ocean floor. The continent, known as Zealandia, reportedly submerged under the water some 23 million years ago, with the site now unveiled by the new coordinates.
Geologists from New Zealand created the tectonic and bathymetric maps of the continent, which is believed to expand across about 1,930,511 square miles (3,106,800 square km). The maps, together with graphics and other geoscience information, are available on the new E Tūhura – Explore Zealandia (TEZ) website.
Zealandia – A Massive Ancient Continent
Zealandia has met the criteria for a continent back in 2017 and is thought to have submerged after separating from the Gondwanaland supercontinent over 79 million years ago. The lost continent is twice the size of the largest micro-continent and also met the continental requirements in terms of thickness and density.
Dr. Nick Mortimer, map author, and GNS Science geologist, said: “These maps are a scientific benchmark, but they’re also more than that — they’re a way of communicating our work to our colleagues, stakeholders, educators and the public. We’ve made these maps to provide an accurate, complete, and up-to-date picture of the geology of the New Zealand and southwest Pacific area — better than we have had before.’ Their value is that they provide a fresh context in which to explain and understand the setting of New Zealand’s volcanoes, plate boundary, and sedimentary basins.”
The TEZ website enables geologists and the public to explore the geology of Zealandia ‘from the comfort of their homes,’ said project head and geophysicist Dr. Vaughan Stagpoole.
He explained: “Users can zoom and pan around different thematic geoscience webmaps of the region. They can readily view and interrogate the maps and turn layers on or off. They can also query features in the layers and generate custom maps of their own.”
More details will be added to the interactive web page as new findings are gathered, the team said. Three interactive, multi-layered Zealandia maps are accessible through the TEZ website. A tectonic map showcases geological interpretations of the kinds and ages of the crust of the continent, adding to the reveal of boundaries and motion vectors of geological plates, the depth of subducting slabs, and the locations of volcanoes.
A bathymetric web map then shows the shape of the solid land and seabed of the newly-revealed continent of Zealandia, along with a chart that depicts coastlines, territorial limits, and the names of significant undersea features.
Finally, a geoscience data map pieces together information from various sources, including GNS Science’s 1:250,000 scale geological map of New Zealand and records of samples from the national rock, mineral, and geo-analytical Petlab database.