(ORDO NEWS) — 23 million years ago, Zealand was almost completely submerged, but today it is revealing its geological secrets. The study, published in the journal Tectonics, reveals more about Zealandia’s mysterious past and how it shaped the region’s modern environment.
About 23 million years ago, an incredible event occurred on the face of the Earth – Zealand, the eighth continent, almost completely went under water. This mysterious continent located in the Pacific Ocean has begun to reveal its secrets thanks to the efforts of a team of geologists, and their discoveries have proven fundamental to our understanding of the geological history of our planet.
Geologists have long noted similarities in the geology of New Zealand and New Caledonia. But only recently has it become clear that this similarity is much deeper than just a coincidence. The researchers concluded that these two land masses are actually the remnants of one continent, which was called “Zealand”.
Zealand is a continent, most of which (about 94 percent) is under water, with the exception of New Zealand, New Caledonia and a few small islands. This continent has a unique geological structure – its crust is thinner than most continents, but thicker than oceanic crust. It was formed by the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, which broke apart about 180 million years ago.
However, until recently, many questions remained about exactly how the thinning of the earth’s crust and the immersion of Zealand under water occurred. The research team conducted extensive research, including analyzing samples recovered from Zealandia, creating a geological map and modeling of the continent, and investigating magnetic anomalies.
“We believe that Zealand is the first of Earth’s continents to have its basement, sedimentary basins and volcanic rocks mapped completely to the continent’s oceanic boundary,” the researchers say.
According to the study, significant thinning of the crust and subsidence of Zealandia occurred about 100-80 million years ago. This could be caused by the cortex stretching in different directions.
Today, much of Zealand remains submerged, but scientists have found compelling evidence that a diversity of living organisms once existed here. Among them were plants and marine animals, whose traces were left in the form of pollen spores and shells found in marine sediments. These findings suggest that Zealand was a rich ecosystem before it was submerged.
The discovery of Zealandia as a continent has important implications for our understanding of the evolution of plants and animals in the region.
“The large geographic changes in northern Zealand have implications for understanding issues such as how plants and animals dispersed and evolved in the South Pacific,” said study co-author Rupert Sutherland.
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