Scientists tab new continent: Zealandia

Credit: Br3nda

Credit: Br3nda

It may be time to update those geography books. Scientists are now claiming there is a new continent.

Zealandia was named as that new continent, according to a study released online Thursday by The Geological Society of America.

Zealandia joins the other continents: Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. However, some geologists do argue that Europe and Asia are one continent, known as Eurasia.

For years, Australia and New Zealand were believed to share the continent called Australasia, the Weather Channel reported. But a recent 10-year project conducted by 11 researchers determined that they are, in fact, on separate continents.

New Zealand now calls a 1.8 million square mile land mass known as Zealandia home. This new continent also includes New Caledonia, along with several other territories and island groups.

Geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk first coined the term Zealandia back in 1995.

"This is not a sudden discovery but a gradual realization; as recently as 10 years ago we would not have had the accumulated data or confidence in interpretation to write this paper," the authors wrote for the March/April 2017 issue of GSA Today, a Geological Society of America journal.

The researchers used recent and detailed satellite-based elevation, along with gravity maps of the ancient seafloor, to show that Zealandia is part of one unified region.