By Tia Ghose, Senior Writer Published July 26, 2017
A map of Zealandia. Scientists aboard the Joides Resolution will visit six websites on this misplaced continent to take center samples later this summer season.
A map of Zealandia. Scientists aboard the Joides Resolution will go to six websites on this lost continent to take center samples later this summertime. (IODP)
Scientists will soon talk to the world’s hidden 8th continent, the sunken land of Zealandia.
The misplaced continent, which is ordinarily submerged, with all of New Zealand and a few islands peeking out from the water, is ready 1/2 the size of Australia. By drilling deep into its crust or upper layer, the brand new clinical excursion should offer clues approximately how the diving of one in all Earth’s plates beneath another, a process called subduction, fueled the growth of a volcano chain and this lost continent in the Pacific Ocean 50 million years in the past. The new excursion can also reveal how that Earth-altering occasion changed ocean currents and the weather.
“We’re searching for the pleasant place in the global to apprehend how plate subduction initiates,” day trip co-chief scientist Gerald Dickens, professor of Earth, environmental and planetary technological know-how at Rice University in Texas, stated in an assertion. “This day trip will answer lots of questions about Zealandia.” [The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History]
The lost continent
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In February, scientists argued inside the journal GSA Today that Earth has a hidden eighth continent, reflected on maps.
The argument for Zealandia being a continent is based totally on several lines of proof. Rocks under the seafloor off New Zealand’s coast are made of diffusion of historical rock kinds, which might be observed only on continents, now not in oceanic crust. The continental shelves of Zealandia are plenty shallower than the ones of the nearby oceanic crust. And, rock samples screen a skinny strip of oceanic crust separating Australia and the underwater portions of Zealandia. These factors advocate the place underwater around New Zealand makes up a continent, the researchers reported.
Journey to the eighth continent
However, there are nevertheless some questions about how Zealandia fashioned.
Expedition 371, funded by way of the National Science Foundation and the International Ocean Discovery Program, ambitions to reply to many of those questions. More than 30 scientists will set sail on July 27 for a two-month excursion aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a big clinical drilling ship.
From there, the group will go to six sites within the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand to drill cores of sediment and rocks from the Earth’s crust. Each middle could be among 1,000 ft and a couple of 600 ft (three hundred meters and 800 meters), which means that scientists can peer back in time over tens of tens of millions of years.
“If you pass way lower back, approximately 100 million years ago, Antarctica, Australia, and Zealandia had been all one continent,” Dickens said. “Around 85 million years ago, Zealandia split off on its personal, and for a time, the seafloor between it and Australia became spreading on either aspect of an ocean ridge that separated the two.”
After this shift, the location between the two continents changed into compressed. But around 50 million years in the past, the Pacific Plate dove beneath New Zealand, lifting the 2 islands, forming a string of volcanoes within the Pacific, and relieving the compressive stress within the ocean crust among the two continents.
“What we need to understand is why and whilst the diverse ranges from extension to relaxation befell,” Dickens said.