Zealandia, the land mass of 4.5 million square kilometres (1.74 million square miles) is 94 per cent under water and only its highest points — New Zealand and New Caledonia — poke above the surface.
Zealandia is believed to have broken away from Australia about 80 million years ago and sank beneath the sea as part of the break up of the super-continent known as Gondwanaland.
The 4.5-million square km land mass is 94% under water and only its highest points — New Zealand and New Caledonia — are visible.
A continent two-thirds the size of Australia has been found beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean, scientists reported in the journal of the Geological Society of America.
Suspected since the 1920s
Geologists early in the previous century had found granite from sub-Antarctic islands near New Zealand and metamorphic rocks on New Caledonia that were indicative of continental geology.
If the recent discovery is accepted by the scientific community, cartographers will probably have to add an eighth continent to future maps and atlases.