Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent

Type Article
Date 2017-03
Language English
Author(s) Mortimer Nick1, Campbell Hamish J.2, Tulloch Andy J.1, King Peter R.2, Stagpoole Vaughan M.2, Wood Ray A.2, Rattenbury Mark S.2, Sutherland Rupert3, Adams Chris J.1, Collot Julien4, Seton Maria5
Affiliation(s) 1 : GNS Science, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
2 : GNS Science, P.O. Box 30368, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
3 : SGEES, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
4 : Service Géologique de Nouvelle Calédonie, B.P. 465, Nouméa 98845, New Caledonia
5 : School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Source GSA Today (10525173) (Geological Society of America), 2017-03 , Vol. 27 , N. 3 , P. 27-35
DOI 10.1130/GSATG321A.1

A 4.9 Mkm2 region of the southwest Pacific Ocean is made up of continental crust. The region has elevated bathymetry relative to surrounding oceanic crust, diverse and silica-rich rocks, and relatively thick and low-velocity crustal structure. Its isolation from Australia and large area support its definition as a continent— Zealandia. Zealandia was formerly part of Gondwana. Today it is 94% submerged, mainly as a result of widespread Late Cretaceous crustal thinning preceding supercontinent breakup and consequent isostatic balance. The identification of Zealandia as a geological continent, rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments, and slices, more correctly represents the geology of this part of Earth. Zealandia provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup.

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Mortimer Nick, Campbell Hamish J., Tulloch Andy J., King Peter R., Stagpoole Vaughan M., Wood Ray A., Rattenbury Mark S., Sutherland Rupert, Adams Chris J., Collot Julien, Seton Maria (2017). Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent. GSA Today, 27(3), 27-35. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1130/GSATG321A.1 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00489/60035/