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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Dave Mosher -- Earth has a brand-new continent called Zealandia, and it's been hiding in plain sight for ages

Earth has a brand-new continent called Zealandia, and it's been hiding in plain sight for ages

  • Geologists have determined there's a new continent called "Zealandia."
  • Recent satellite data and rock samples led to the conclusion.
  • New Zealand and New Caledonia are part of the new continent, which is about as big as greater India.
  • The new continent could have economic and geopolitical implications

Resultado de imagem para pictures of zealandia

Kids are frequently taught that seven continents exist: Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Geologists, who look at the rocks (and tend to ignore the humans), group Europe and Asia into a supercontinent - Eurasia - making for a total of six geologic continents.

But according to a new study of Earth's crust, there's a seventh geologic continent called "Zealandia," and it has been hiding under our figurative noses for millennia.

The 11 researchers behind the study say that New Zealand and New Caledonia aren't merely island chains. Instead, they're both part of a single, 4.9 million-square-kilometer (1.89 million-square-mile) slab of continental crust that's distinct from Australia.

"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 researchers wrote in GSA Today, a journal of the Geological Society of America.

Ten of the researchers work for institutions within the new continent; one works for a university in Australia. But other geologists are almost certain to accept the team's continent-sized conclusions, says Bruce Luyendyk, a geophysicist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who wasn't involved in the study.

"These people here are A-list earth scientists," Luyendyk told Business Insider. "I think they've put together a solid collection of evidence that's really thorough. I don't see that there's going to be a lot of pushback, except maybe around the edges."

Why Zealandia is almost certainly a new continent

N. Mortimer et al./GSA Today

The concept of Zealandia isn't new. In fact, Luyendyk coined the term in 1995.

But Luyendyk says it was never intended to be a new continent. Rather, the name was used to describe New Zealand, New Caledonia, and a collection of submerged pieces and slices of crust that broke off a region of Gondwana, a 200 million-year-old supercontinent.

"The reason I came up with this term is out of convenience," Luyendyk said. "They're pieces of the same thing when you look at Gondwana. So I thought, 'Why do you keep naming this collection of pieces as different things?'"

Researchers behind the new study advanced Luyendyk's idea a huge step further: They took decades' worth of newer evidence and examined it with four criteria that geologists use to deem a slab of rock a continent:
  1. Land that pokes up relatively high from the ocean floor.
  2. A diversity of three types of rocks: igneous (spewed by volcanoes), metamorphic (altered by heat/pressure), and sedimentary (made by erosion).
  3. A thicker, less dense section of crust compared with surrounding ocean floor.
  4. "Well-defined limits around a large enough area to be considered a continent rather than a microcontinent or continental fragment."
Geologists had determined that New Zealand and New Caledonia fit the bill for items one, two, and three. After all, they're large islands that poke up from the sea floor, are geologically diverse, and are made of thicker, less dense crust.

This eventually led to Luyendyk's coining of Zealandia and the description of the region as "continental," since it was considered a collection of microcontinents, or bits and pieces of former continents.

The authors say the last item on the list - a question of "Is it big enough and unified enough to be its own thing?" - is one that other researchers had skipped over, though by no fault of their own. At a glance, Zealandia seemed broken up.

However, the new study used recent and detailed satellite-based elevation and gravity maps of the ancient seafloor to show that Zealandia is indeed part of a unified region. The data also suggests Zealandia spans "approximately the area of greater India" - larger than Madagascar, New Guinea, Greenland, or other pieces of crust.

"If the elevation of Earth's solid surface had first been mapped in the same way as those of Mars and Venus (which lack [...] opaque liquid oceans)," they wrote, "we contend that Zealandia would, much earlier, have been investigated and identified as one of Earth's continents."

The geologic devil's in the details

The authors point out that while India is big enough to be a continent - and probably used to be - it's now part of Eurasia because it collided and stuck to that continent millions of years ago.

Zealandia, meanwhile, has not yet smashed into Australia. A piece of seafloor called the Cato Trough still separates the continents by 25 kilometers (15.5 miles).



An elevation map of Zealandia and nearby Australia.
Another wrinkle for Zealandia is its division into northern and southern segments by two tectonic plates: the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate. This split makes the region seem more like a bunch of continental fragments than a unified slab.

But the researchers say that Arabia, India, and parts of Central America have similar divisions yet are still considered parts of larger continents.

"I'm from California, and it has a plate boundary going through it," Luyendyk said. "In millions of years, the western part will be up near Alaska. Does that make it not part of North America? No."

What's more, the researchers wrote, rock samples suggest Zealandia is made of the same continental crust that used to be part of Gondwana and that it migrated in ways similar to Antarctica and Australia.

The samples and data also show that Zealandia is not broken up. Instead, plate tectonics have thinned, stretched, and submerged Zealandia over of millions of years.

Today, only about 5% of it is visible - which is part of the reason it took so long to discover.

"The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list," the scientists wrote. "That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it a useful and thought-provoking geodynamic end member in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust."

Luyendyk said he believes the distinction won't end up as merely a scientific curiosity. He thinks it could have larger, real-world consequences.

"The economic implications are clear and come into play: What's part of New Zealand, and what's not part of New Zealand?" he said.

United Nations agreements use continental margins to determine which nations can extract off-shore resources - and New Zealand may have tens of billions of dollars' worth of fossil fuels and minerals lurking off its shores.

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

MUFON.COM

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