Maps reveal new details about New Zealand's lost underwater continent

New maps released on June 21 show new details of Zealandia's geology and topography.

(CNN)Under New Zealand, there lies a vast continent on the sea floor.

Once part of the same land mass as Antarctica and Australia, the lost continent of Zealandia broke off 85 million years ago and eventually sank below the ocean, where it stayed largely hidden for centuries.
Now, maps reveal new research about the underwater continent where dinosaurs once roamed -- and allow the public to virtually explore it.
    GNS Science, a New Zealand research institute, published two new maps and an interactive website on Monday. The maps cover the shape of the ocean floor and Zealandia's tectonic profile, which collectively help tell the story of the continent's origins.
    The maps also help explain the setting of New Zealand's volcanoes, sedimentary basins, and other geological features, said GNS Science in a news release.
    People around the world can explore the continent from their own homes; the interactive website shows different types of maps of Zealandia, which users can layer and toggle as they like. For instance, you could locate all the ancient and modern volcanoes on the continent, or see where on the land mass ridges are still spreading.
    "These maps are a scientific benchmark -- but they're also more than that. They're a way of communicating our work to our colleagues, stakeholders, educators and the public," said geologist Dr. Nick Mortimer, the lead author of the maps, in the release.
    "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."

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