The mysterious eighth continent of the earth doesn’t appear on the maps because 95% of the continent is submerged thousands of feet under the pacific ocean. It is a 2 million-square-mile (5 million square kilometers) continent east of Australia, beneath modern-day New Zealand. Zealandia — or Te Riu-a-Māui, as it’s referred to in the indigenous Māori language .
The landmass was dicovered in 1990 by the scientists and in 2017 formal continent status was given to it. The lost landmass is still poorly studied due to its Atlantean geography.
Now, GNS Science — a geohazards research and consultancy organization owned by the government of New Zealand — hopes to raise Zealandia (in public awareness, at least) with a suite of new maps and interactive tools that capture the lost continent in unprecedented detail.
“We’ve made these maps to provide an accurate, complete and up-to-date picture of the geology of the New Zealand and southwest Pacific area — better than we have had before,” Nick Mortimer, a geologist and lead author of the maps, said in a statement. “Their value is that they provide a fresh context in which to explain and understand the setting of New Zealand’s volcanoes, plate boundary and sedimentary basins.”
The new maps reveal Zealandia’s bathymetry (the shape of the ocean floor) as well as its tectonic history, showing how volcanism and tectonic motion have shaped the continent over millions of years. Data for the bathymetric map was provided by the Seabed2030 project — a global effort to map the entire ocean floor by 2030. (The project is about 20% complete.)
The team also released interactive versions of both maps on a new Zealandia webpage. Spend a few minutes clicking around the hyper-detailed images — and, when someone asks what you’re doing, simply tell them you’re “discovering Earth’s lost continent.”