A group of researchers from the Australian National University have set out to discover the world’s eighth continent, that is said to be hiding in the proverbial ‘ditch’ between Australia and New Zealand.

The underwater land mass, called ‘Zealandia’, stretches from New Caledonia in the north to the Chatham Islands in the south, passing underneath New Zealand and Norfolk Island to cover 5 million square kilometres – an area roughly two thirds the size of Australia.

The expedition will set off on the drillship JOIDES Resolution to uncover the mysteries of the lost continent.

Professor Neville Exon from the ANU said that the research would help scientists understand climate change and the shifts in global plate tectonics.

On-board the drillship, taking off from Townsville, will also be an international team of 55 scientists, accompanied by a crew of around 50.

The 143 metre long ship will also carry a drill tower which would be 61 metres high and which will help to scoop up five kilometres of Zealandia sediment to help the research and collect evidence.

The continent was first discovered by US geophysicist B. Luyendyk in 1995, but was not considered continent worthy until February last year.

The expedition is expected to wrap up in September.

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