Interactive maps let Kiwis explore New Zealand's lost continent of Zealandia

Kiwi scientists have launched interactive maps allowing people to explore the lost continent of Zealandia.

GNS Science's new site, E Tūhura - Explore Zealandia, lets us take a closer look at the 94 percent of the continent which sits at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. 

Scientists began mapping it in detail a few years ago, tens of millions of years after it vanished. 

"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," geologist Nick Mortimer told NZME. 

Zealandia was one of several continents which used to make up supercontinent Gondwanaland, along with South America, Antarctica, India, Australia, Arabia and Africa. Unlike the others, most of it sank.

"Today, most of Zealandia sits hidden underwater, with only the islands of New Zealand and New Caledonia visible above the ocean surface," Dr Mortimer wrote on the GNS website.

The new interactive maps lets users look at Zealandia in four different ways: 

  • tectonic, showing off "the types and age of crust, major faults, plate and microplate boundaries, plate motion vectors, subducting slab depths, basement geology, sedimentary basins and ancient and modern volcano locations" 
  • bathymetric, which shows the "shape of the solid land and seabed" and "coastlines, territorial limits and names of major undersea features" 
  • geoscience, which includes "multibeam bathymetry, gravity and magnetic data" as well as "seismic line tracks, industry and research drillholes and territorial limits" 
  • blank, which lets users pick and choose data from the other maps. 

If you're scientifically minded, GNS has also provided the raw data you can use to make your own maps.