Many haven’t heard of Zealandia, but it’s technically the eighth continent of the world. Many haven’t heard of it, because most of it is technically underwater in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean.
Now, thanks to some super cool science and maps, we can explore this vast continent from the safety of our couch.
These Maps Allow Us to Explore Zealandia Virtually
An astounding 85 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the rainforests of Zealandia. Around that time, it split from Gondwana, a supercontinent that included what we know now as Africa and South America.
A few million years later, tectonic plates shifted, which caused most of Zealandia to sink. The only thing left to see above water? About 6% of the continent. In other words: New Zealand among a few other small islands.
The other 94% of the continent is underwater, and scientists are still discovering oh so much about this part of the world. Some of what they do know is now being shared with some pretty nifty virtual maps and interactive website from GNS Science.
Through the Explore Zealandia maps, website visitors can explore five million square kilometers (or 1.93 million square miles) of the undersea continent of Zealandia. The maps show everything the scientists know about the geography of Zealandia so far: sedimentary basins, volcanoes, land mass ridges, and more. What a cool way to explore the undersea world!
According to the geologist and author of the interactive maps, Dr. Nick Mortimer:
“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.”
And they’re a fabulous way to teach our kids about a part of the world we’re still discovering! Scientists and geologists know there’s still a lot to learn about Zealandia, and as they discover things about the continent, they plan to update the maps.