Sign In

Login to ...

A-Z Index
Home > Office of Communications > News Services > News Releases
News Releases

Queens College Scientist Stephen Pekar Will Join First Major Expedition to Explore the Lost Continent of Zealandia

-- 30 Researchers from 12 Nations Will Leave in July to Probe
of Mysterious Sunken World East of Australia --

QUEENS, NY, June 22, 2017 – The lost continent of Atlantis, a myth dating back to the days of ancient Greece, continues to assert its power over the human imagination even though Atlantis never existed. Perhaps that explains the international sensation caused by an article, “Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent,” published in February in the scientific journal GSA Today.

On July 27, a team of 30 scientists from a dozen nations will come together through the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) for a two-month exploration of what they consider a real-life lost continent. Named “Zealandia” for its location near New Zealand, this eighth continent is an enormous land mass, once part of Australia, that wasn’t always hidden below the waves.

Among the ten Americans onboard the scientific drillship JOIDES Resolution will be geologist Stephen Pekar, a professor of earth and environmental science at Queens College, CUNY. Pekar, a resident of Forest Hills, Queens, is the only expedition scientist from New York.

By drilling up to 900 meters--over half a mile--below the sea floor, Pekar and his colleagues will obtain 50-to-60 million-year-old sedimentary core samples that may contribute to our understanding of climate change.

“The samples we’ll extract come from a time when carbon dioxide was at the level that’s being predicted for us later this century,” said Pekar. “And so in effect, we’ll be looking back to our future. We may also learn whether past climate was unusually warm in the region. Answers to these questions are among the missing pieces of the climate puzzle.”

In addition, he says, the core samples can help scientists learn when and why portions of the land mass ripped away, submerged, rose up and submerged again, and how continent movement relates to global plate motion.

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) supporting the expedition is an international research collaboration involving over 20 countries that coordinates seagoing expeditions to study the history of the earth recorded in sediments and rocks beneath the ocean floor. Its exploratory expeditions attract talented scientists from universities worldwide—sedimentologists like Pekar, as well as geochemists, paleontologists and other specialists who compete for the opportunity to conduct trailblazing research at sea.

In the confined space of the JODIES Resolution ship (operated on behalf of the National Science Foundation), the Americans will work closely with fellow scientists from Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, UK, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Brazil. When it comes to communication, what might have been a floating Tower of Babel will instead be a smooth-sailing vessel because everyone speaks English, the universal language of science.

“Once the expedition is underway, a videographer and science teacher onboard will create live ship-to-shore events that will put the scientists directly in touch with people on land,” said Carl Brenner, director of the U.S. Science Support Program for IODP. Pekar is familiar with this kind of multi-media outreach. While on a drilling expedition in Antarctica, he participated in a live exchange with public school students from their Harlem classroom.

After the ship pulls into the port of Hobart, Australia, on September 26 and the scientists return home, the core samples, expected to number in the thousands, will be closely examined in their university laboratories. The group plans to come together again—on land—in January 2018.

“By early next year, I expect that my students will be assisting with the analysis, performing such tasks as looking at sediments and microfossils in the samples,” Pekar said. An active recruiter of the next generation of geologists, Pekar has mentored Queens high school students in his lab over the years and hopes to get budding scientists involved in the project.

Pekar’s interest in investigating past climate change has involved core-drilling from near-shore to deep-sea locations ranging from the tropics to Antarctica, which he has explored four times, once as a project leader. During one Antarctic expedition, he experienced storms that unleashed 30-foot-high seas.

The scientist-explorers face other challenges besides brutal weather. “You’re on a mission, so you expect 12-hour shifts seven days a week and being away from loved ones,”
he said. “But it’s also beautiful out at sea, especially at sunrise.”

A native of Queens, Pekar grew up in the Rockaways and earned his bachelor’s degree in geology from Queens College after switching from his original major, 20th century music composition, at the college’s famed Aaron Copland School of Music. He went on to earn a PhD in geology at Rutgers University and conducted post-doctoral work at Columbia University.

“I’m enthralled with exploring and discovering new places and ideas,” said Pekar, who is a member of the legendary Explorers Club in New York City. He has traveled to over 50 countries and worked in six of them at jobs ranging from house pianist for a restaurant in Israel to grape picking in Germany and movie extra in China.

For more information on this upcoming expedition to explore the lost continent of Zealandia, please visit:

About the School of Environmental Sciences (SEES) at Queens College
SEES goes beyond the classic discipline of geology to encompass interdisciplinary approaches. New majors including a master’s program in Geotechnology, high-tech laboratories, and renowned teaching faculty who’ve explored the earth from Bangladesh to Nicaragua, Turkey to Long Island Sound, ensure the School’s leadership position among college environmental programs in New York.
About Queens College
Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors and principals in the metropolitan area. The college contributes to the local talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more computer science majors than any college in New York City. Queens College also has the third-highest number of accounting and business students in all of New York State. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors and performers who have received nearly 40 Grammy Awards and nominations over the past 40 years.
Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its nearly 19,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college is cited each year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit our homepage to learn more.

 Office Information

Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B
(718) 997-5593

Contact Us

 Recent News Releases

June 14
Queens College Freshman Renuka Surujnarain Awarded Prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship
June 07
Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of NYC Department of Small Business Services, to Discuss Growing a Small Business in New York
June 04
Renowned Legal and Business Expert Barry A. Bryer Received Queens College President's Medal at the College's May 29 Baccalaureate Convocation
May 29
Queens College Honors Three Distinguished Alumni From Diverse Fields at its 94th Commencement
May 25
Renowned Legal and Business Expert Barry A. Bryer to Receive Queens College President's Medal at the College's Baccalaureate Convocation, May 29
May 15
Queens College to Recognize Award-Winning Students in Second Annual Winners Celebration May 16
May 10
Fashion Merchandising Executive, Educator-Scientist and Financial Industry Leader Are This Year's Queens College Annual Gala Honorees
May 01
Queens College Choral Society Presents Britten's War Requiem, A Plea for Peace
April 30
MacArthur "Genius Award" Recipient and One of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2018 Cristina Jiménez Moreta Named May 2018 Commencement Speaker
April 26
Second Annual Student-Curated Queens College Arts Festival, May 2 - 7, Higlights Emerging Artists in Greater New York
April 25
Queens College Summer Session Offers Nearly 1,000 Classes, Summer Camp Discount and Cutting-Edge Cyber Security Course
April 17
Forbes Ranks Queens College a 2018 America's "Best Value" College; Recognizes its Success with Upward Mobility
April 12
Fashion Show to Focus on Models' Social Identity; Explore Societal Stereotype and Personal Expression at Queens College on April 16
April 11
Queens College Opera Presents The Marriage of Figaro April 26-29
March 15
Sustainability and the City: A Panel Discussion on Urban Sustainability With a Focus on New York City and State
March 12
Thomas Hull Appointed Assistant Vice President for the Office of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Queens College
March 07
Queens College Adds a Fourth Option to Summer Session Program, Offering Introductory to Advanced STEM Courses Over 10 Weeks
March 02
Award-Winning Film Emerald City Debuts in the Borough at Queens College March 14; Chronicles Shift in Irish Immigration
March 02
Queens College Celebrates Women's History Month with Presentations by a Tony Award-Winning Playwright, the Governor of Attica, Greece, and a STEM Research Pioneer
February 27
Queens College Summer Camp, Now in its 30th Year, Offers Kids Sports and Classes From Dance to Computer Coding
February 15
"Genius Award" Recipient Cristina Jiménez Moreta Named May 2018 Commencement Speaker
February 14
State of the College Address by President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
February 08
Queens College to Offer Over 700 Summer Courses, Including Online; Registration Opens February 13
February 07
Queens College Ranked in Top 25 of Best Public Colleges and Universities for Graphic Design in the Nation
February 06
Queens College Evening Readings Series Welcomes Acclaimed Playwrights and Authors to Its 2018 Spring Season, Including Tony Award Winner, Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and Oscar Nominee John Guare
February 01
Robert Twible Named Interim Director of Athletics at Queens College
January 29
QC President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez Congratulates Grammy Award-Winning Alum Arturo O'Farrill
January 24
Queens College Choral Society Invites New Members to Sing Benjamin Britten's War Requiem
January 24
Interactive Queens College Exhibition Showcases Personal Stories of Nonviolent Resistance
January 23
Queens College Named One of Top 20 Best Value Colleges for Teaching Degrees
January 22
Queens College Celebrates Black History Month on the Theme of Sankofa: Reclaiming our Time
January 22
Three 2018 Military Guides Recognize Queens College's Outstanding Support of Veterans
January 08
Queens College and Kupferberg Center for the Arts Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. with Performance by Sweet Honey in the Rock on January 14
December 15
Statement From Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez In Recognition of Alumni Nominated For 2018 Grammy Awards
December 13
Gary Ackerman, Former U.S. Congressman, Donates His Papers to the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library at His Alma Mater, Queens College
December 05
Queens College Choral Society Presents Mozart's Requiem and 1001 Voices: A Symphony for a New America on December 16
December 04
Queens College Student Josephine Cooke Wins 2018 Marshall Scholarship
December 01
Queens College Drama Department Stages First Reading of The Kitchen Plays at December 11 Fundraiser
November 29
Queens College Students Place First in National TD Ameritrade U 2017 Thinkorswim® Challenge, Win $30,000 Prize for College
November 09
Artistic Interpretations of Immigration and Diversity Take Center Stage at the Queens College Fall Faculty Dance Concert
November 07
Healthcare Industry Leaders and Advocates to Discuss the State of the Industry and What Comes After the Affordable Care Act
November 07
Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding Hosts November 15 Discussion on Immigration Policy During Trump's First Year
November 06
Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez named Board Chair of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
November 02
Queens College's Signature Math Education Program, TIME 2000, Holds 16th Annual Conference for High School Students, Celebrating Mathematics Teaching
November 01
Music Reference Collection, Conference Room at Queens College Named for Music Faculty Member and Alumna
October 31
Queens College to Honor 2017-2018 1199SEIU Joseph Tauber Scholarship Recipients
October 30
Laurie F. Dorf Appointed Vice President for Institutional Advancement/Alumni Relations at Queens College
October 27
Queens College Annual Kristallnacht Commemoration on November 12 Will Focus on the Movie "Casablanca," The Refugees in its Cast, and the Holocaust's Impact on Film Professionals in Europe
October 24
The Chronicle of Higher Ed Ranks Queens College Among Top Ten Public U.S. Colleges for Upward Social and Economic Mobility
October 18
Upcoming Aaron Copland School of Music Events Showcase Faculty Talents
October 13
Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to Participate in Q&A Session with Queens College Students
October 12
Queens College Alumna Cristina Jiménez Moreta Wins 2017 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur "Genius Award"
October 12
Queens College Honors Inaugural Class Member 98 Year-Old Alumnus John W. Kinder and Award-Winning Reporter Juliet Papa at 80th Anniversary Reception
October 06
98 Year-Old Queens College Alumnus John Kinder Returns to Campus Eighty Years to the Day He Joined the Inaugural Class
October 06
The Redress Movement for the Victims of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery; Looking Back at the 27-Year Movement
October 06
Artists, Designers, Students & The Community Reflect on the Art of Making, Craftsmanship & Technology in "The Fabric of Cultures: Systems in the Making"
September 27
Free Adult Civic Education Classes: New Group Seeks to Empower Queens Residents with Help From Two Queens College Professors
September 13
Kupferberg Center for the Arts Celebrates 10th Anniversary Season with Top Performers for Every Taste
September 11
Queens College Marks the Start of Academic Year 2017-18 With Residence Hall Enhancements and Expanded Academic Offerings
September 06
Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our undocumented immigrant students, from Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
August 25
From Soccer to Special Ed: Meldryck Parraga Awarded Full Tuition for Graduate Study at Queens College
August 22
Nine-Piece Student Band and 10-Member Dance Team to Welcome Over 1,800 New Queens College Students in a New Orleans Jazz-Style Procession
August 21
An Overview of AT&T and the Local Communities with Marissa Shorenstein, President, AT&T East Region
August 17
Queens College Choral Society Invites New Members to Join for "Season of Unity" 2017-2018
July 17
Louis Armstrong House Museum Breaks Ground on New $23 Million Education Center
July 12
Queens College is Ranked in the Top 5% of Money Magazine's 2017-18 "711 Best Colleges for Your Money" Listing
July 12
Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, NY Announces Groundbreaking Ceremony for New $23 Million Education Center
June 27
Finding Common Ground Through Art—Young Muslim Teacher Inspires and is Embraced by Young Israel of Queens Seniors
June 22
Queens College Scientist Stephen Pekar Will Join First Major Expedition to Explore the Lost Continent of Zealandia
Stay Social at QC YouTube Facebook Twitter Gray Bar Calendar MyQC QC Mobile CUNY first Blackboard QC Bookstore

Click each division to view a complete list of its departments

Adult Collegiate Education | English Language Institute | Professional & Continuing Studies
Summer Session | Weekend College | Winter Session

Resources for Combating Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault (Title IX)

Queens College is CUNY
DirectionsMap/Directions  |  Emergency Preparedness  |  Working at QC  |  Student Consumer Info  |  A-Z Index  | 
Queens College, CUNY | 65-30 Kissena Blvd. | Queens, NY 11367-1597 | Phone: (718) 997-5000 Copyright © 2004-