Earth could soon have an 8th continent called Zealandia

By Nadim Nyker
28 February 2017

The continent spans five million square km –but it's almost completely underwater.

The continent spans five million square km and is almost completely submerged in the southwest Pacific.

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But it's not quite fair to call the piece of land scientists call Zealandia "new" -- its highest mountains are known as New Zealand and the islands of New Caledonia. These make up the 6 percent of the continent that's above water, with scientists turning a blind eye to the 94 percent that's been submerged all along.

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However, scientists have now made a renewed push for it to be recognised as a continent.

In a journal article published in the Geological Society of America's Journal,researchers explain that Zealandia has the following characteristics to be pushed for recognition:

  • elevation above the surrounding area
  • distinctive geology
  • a well-defined area
  • a crust thicker than the regular ocean floor
According to the BBC, author of the journal article and geologist from New Zealand, Nick Mortimer, the fight for Zealandia's recognition has spanned two decades.

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And what they're fighting for is a lot more than just an extra name on the list.

"That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented" makes it useful for "exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust," Mortimer added.

So what now? Is there any way to formally put this into place?

Unfortunately, there is no formal body or criteria put in place that acknowledges continents, so the only way to change it is to influence a greater body of scientists and future researchers. Forming a body of research that would allow it to be predominantly uncontested.

Sources: BBC Asia, Geo Society,

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