Mapping the ‘hidden’ eighth continent of Zealandia

Credit score: Philipp Guenther, SOI

The ‘hidden’ continent of Zealandia is being partially mapped, due to a deepwater mapping expedition led by The College of Queensland in collaboration with Schmidt Ocean Institute.


The mostly-submerged continent has New Zealand and New Caledonia rising from its depths and was solely placed on the map by geologists in 2014.

Chief Scientist and UQ researcher Dr. Derya Gürer spent 28 days at sea on Schmidt Ocean Institute’s analysis vessel Falkor, exploring the north-western fringe of the continent positioned in Queensland’s Coral Sea Marine Park.

“We’re solely simply beginning to uncover Zealandia’s secrets and techniques—it is remained hidden in plain sight till lately and is notoriously tough to check,” Dr. Gürer mentioned.

“Zealandia is an nearly totally submerged mass of continental crust that subsided after breaking away from Gondwanaland 83 to 79 million years in the past.

“It spans 4.9 million sq. kilometers and is round 3 times the dimensions of Queensland.

“Our expedition collected seafloor topographic and magnetic information to realize a greater understanding of how the slim connection between the Tasman and Coral Seas within the Cato Trough area—the slim hall between Australia and Zealandia—was fashioned.

“The seafloor is filled with clues for understanding the complicated geologic historical past of each the Australian and Zealandian continental plates.

Mapping the ‘hidden’ eighth continent Zealandia
The researchers sampling within the moist lab for microplastics. Credit score: Dr Derya Gürer.

“This information may also enhance our understanding of the complicated construction of the crust between the Australian and Zealandian plates.

“It is thought to incorporate a number of small continental fragments, or microcontinents, that had been break up from Australia and the supercontinent Gondwana previously.”

The mapping venture supplied 37,000 sq. kilometers of information to the Seabed 2030 venture.

The venture goals to provide a publicly accessible bathymetric map to measure the depth of the world’s ocean flooring depth by 2030.

Along with seafloor bathymetric information, which measures ocean depths and topographical options, roughly 2500 sq. kilometers of magnetic information was collected.

UQ’s Dr. Tara Jonell mentioned the crew on Falkor additionally took the chance to enhance sampling methodology for microplastic monitoring and picked up information on seabirds.

“By means of the ship’s underway seawater flow-through system, we analysed greater than 100 samples for microplastics, along with 40 samples collected on a earlier voyage, and just one pattern did not include any seen microplastic,” Dr. Jonell mentioned.

Microplastic and plankton found on the voyage Dr. Derya Gürer.

Mapping the ‘hidden’ eighth continent Zealandia
Zealandia, the eighth continent between Australia and New Zealand. Credit score: College of Queensland

Dr. Gürer, who’s concerned in a citizen science venture to deal with marine plastic air pollution, mentioned the seawater collected from depths as much as 3500 meters held a transparent message.

“There appears to be the next focus of microplastic fibers within the deep ocean,” she mentioned.

In accordance with Dr. Gürer one of many greatest rewards on the journey was seeing the worth of scientific collaboration and the significance of coaching the following era of marine scientists.

“Teamwork and a willingness to study from, and educate one another, made this voyage a hit,” she mentioned.

The researchers sampling within the moist lab for microplastics Dr. Derya Gürer.

“We have all been working on the fringe of our consolation zone for the previous month and it has been very rewarding to see our rising scientists develop.

“It is great to be main so many up-and-coming earth and marine scientists to study the ocean’s secrets and techniques.”

UQ college students are in a position to take a look at their sea legs in a spread of hands-on programs within the Marine Science program.

The multidisciplinary on-board science crew was assembled from 4 Australian universities, together with UQ, with a shore-based crew from 12 establishments (9 in Australia, three abroad).


First utterly distant at-sea science expedition in Australia’s coral sea marine park


Supplied by
College of Queensland

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Mapping the ‘hidden’ eighth continent of Zealandia (2021, March 29)
retrieved 29 March 2021
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