Little is known about Zealandia – the underwater continent half the size of Australia beneath the Tasman Sea which separates Australia and New Zealand – but an international team of scientists, aboard the JOIDES Resolution research vessel will play a crucial role in learning more about the mysterious land mass.
A team of scientists with the International Ocean Discovery Program will study Zealandia by drilling into part of the 2-million-square-mile mass of continental crust. Blue Pacific Minerals are supplying bulk minerals to be used as drilling fluids on this expedition. The crust broke away from Australia about 80 million years ago and sank; now, about 95 percent of it is submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. The two-month expedition, conducted by 30 scientists from a dozen countries, set sail on July 27. The researchers plan to drill at six different sites, collecting samples of sediments more than 1,000 feet into the seafloor. That will allow scientists to analyze the fossil evidence in order to build a record of how Zealandia changed over time.
About the science programme:
The JOIDES Resolution is a seagoing research vessel that drills core samples and collects measurements from under the ocean floor, giving scientists a glimpse into Earth’s development. Data from The JR's ocean drilling offer a scientific means of understanding climate and environmental change throughout a significant part of our planet’s history—a research subject often termed Earth's paleoclimate. The JR’score samples are the “smoking gun” in evaluating many historical events related to paleoclimate, changes in the solid earth and more -- like the extinction of the dinosaurs and plate tectonics, for example.
For an article about the expedition find it here: http://www.newsweek.com/zealandia-lost-continent-drilling-expedition-640248