In 200 or 250 million years, our planet will look completely different from now, because all continents are now united in the & superhuman continent & # 39; new. Researchers Mattias Green (University of Bangor, United Kingdom) and Hannah Sophia Davies and Joao C. Duarte (University of Lisbon, Portugal) detail in the article for The Conversation, how this process will occur.
From the beginning, experts explained that the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust move constantly, moving at speeds of several centimeters per year. This means that from time to time, in geological terms, continents come together on a super continent, which has remained together for several hundred million years before dividing again.
Last supercontinent, Pangea, formed around 310 million years ago and began to separate around 180 million years ago. The next one is expected to be made around 200 or 250 million years. The outbreak of Pangea caused the formation of the Atlantic Ocean, which is still open and expanding, while the Pacific Ocean closes and narrows. The authors of the article also remember that the Pacific is home to a subduction zone ring along its edge (the Ring of Fire), while the Atlantic has only two.
According to the researchers, there are four fundamental scenarios for the formation of the next supercontinent: Novopangea, Pangea Ultima, Aurica and Amasia.
If current conditions are maintained – with the opening of the Atlantic and Pacific declining – the next supercontinent will form on the opposite side of old Pangea, experts say. America will collide with Antarctica, which will move north, and then with Africa and Eurasia who have joined, to create what is called Novopangea.
If the expansion of the Atlantic slows and begins to close, two small subduction arcs can expand along the east coast of America, which will cause Pangea recreation. America, Europe and Africa will meet again on the super continent with now called Pangea Ultima, which will be surrounded by the superocean Pacific.
On the other hand, if a new subduction zone appears in the Atlantic, the two oceans can be closed, and a new ocean basin must be formed to replace it.
In this scenario, Pan-Asian cracks – which currently cross Asia from western India to the Arctic – will open to form new oceans. The result is the establishment of the Aurica supercontinent, whose center is Australia, currently drifting north.
Finally, the fourth scenario assumes "a completely different destiny for the future Earth", the researchers point out. In this sense, they emphasize that some tectonic plates, including Africa and Australia, are currently moving northward, a process that might be driven by the anomalies left by Pangea in the Earth's mantle. So, you can imagine a scenario where all continents, except Antarctica, continue to move north until they join in around the Pole in the hypothetical supercontinent named Amasia.
Which scenario is most likely?
Scientists estimate that Novopangea is the most likely scenario, because it is a logical development of the current trend, while the other three cases involve additional process interventions.