Scientists discover new continent

Scientists discover new continent

Zealandia is likely the seventh geological continent of the planet, a global panel of scientists claim in a new paper.

However, scientists have made a startling discovery of a hidden continent named "Zealandia".

Islands such as New Zealand and New Caledonia form part of the continent, which is a three million square mile region in the southwest Pacific.

Data collected by the scientists suggests that 94 percent of Zealandia, which includes New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Lord Howe Island group, Elizabeth and Middleton reefs, remains submerged under the water and its highest point- Aoraki-Mount Cook is 3724m high.

"The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list", read the paper.

In the paper, titled ',' the geologists argue that Zealandia has all four attributes necessary to be considered a continent.

Due to its large size and isolation from Australia, Zealandia supports the definition of a continent.

"It's been there for a hundred million years, but it's newly discovered and that's because it's been underneath the ocean and hiding", Professor of Geography, Environment, and Science at Victoria University, Rupert Sutherland, said on Friday (February 17).

Co-author Nick Mortimer told The Guardian that while this represented "nothing new" to geologists in his native New Zealand, he hoped the first serious, peer-reviewed attempt to define and describe Zealandia might win the continent more global recognition.

But after 20 years of research, scientists believe that the isolated island belonged to its own super land mass.

According to the report, the edges of the Australia and Zealandia continental crust come as close as 25km to each other across the Cato Trough, situated off the coast of Queensland. He added, "I think the revelation of a new continent is pretty exciting". Zealandia was created when the supercontinent Gondwana broke into parts 85 million years ago, and an ocean began forming between the countries.

While at first glance the continent seems to be broken, based on the results of the study - which used satellite-based elevations and gravity maps - Zealandia indeed looks as a part of the unified region.