Modeling predicts supercontinent Amasia will form in 300 million years
New modeling from researchers at Curtin University has simulated 300 million years of tectonic plate movement to predict the formation of a supercontinent called Amasia. The modeling estimates the Pacific Ocean closing and America colliding with Asia.
“Over the past two billion years, Earth’s continents have collided together to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, known as the supercontinent cycle,” explained lead author on the new study, Chuan Huang. “This means that the current continents are due to come together again in a couple of hundred of million years’ time.”
The most recent supercontinent was Pangaea, which came together around 335 million years ago and began to break up at the beginning of the Jurassic age 200 million years ago.
When Pangaea broke up, the Atlantic and Indian oceans ultimately formed as the slow rifting of continents created the world map we know today. What we now refer to as the Pacific Ocean is the remnant of a super ocean called Panthalassa. And this ocean has been slowly shrinking for several hundred million years, leading many to suggest the next supercontinent will form through the closing of the Pacific.
But unsurprisingly, there are plenty of hypotheses speculating how the world’s continents will shift over the next few hundred million years. One configuration, dubbed Pangaea Proxima, suggests the Atlantic and Indian oceans will ultimately close, creating a supercontinent not entirely unlike Pangaea. Another hypothesis proposes the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will both close, with a rift splitting Eurasia from India to the Arctic creating a supercontinent called Aurica.
The new research used 4-D geodynamic modeling to predict tectonic movement over hundreds of millions of years. According to Huang, the results indicate it is most likely the Pacific Ocean will close, and in less than 300 million years time a supercontinent called Amasia will form.
“The resulting new supercontinent has already been named Amasia because some believe that the Pacific Ocean will close (as opposed to the Atlantic and Indian oceans) when America collides with Asia,” said Huang. “Australia is also expected to play a role in this important Earth event, first colliding with Asia and then connecting America and Asia once the Pacific Ocean closes.”
Study co-author Zheng-Xiang Li said the planet’s ecosystems will be wildly different by the time Amasia has formed. The massive supercontinent would inevitably feature a superhot arid interior.
“Currently, Earth consists of seven continents with widely different ecosystems and human cultures, so it would be fascinating to think what the world might look like in 200 to 300 million years’ time,” said Li.
The new study was published in National Science Review.
Source: Curtin University