‘Supercontinent’ will emerge after the end of the Pacific Ocean, says study

A new “supercontinent” is forming and, although it still takes 200 million to 300 million years for that to happen, the topic already fascinates scientists, who study how the disappearance of the Pacific Ocean will give way to “Amasia” — junction of America with Asia.

Researchers from Curtin University in Australia and Peking University in China published a study in the journal National Science, in which, with the help of a supercomputer, they simulated the evolution of Earth’s tectonic plates and the formation of the future supercontinent, while there is a shrinkage and total closure of the ocean.

“Over the past two billion years, Earth’s continents have collided to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, which is known as the supercontinent cycle. This means that the present-day continents must come together again in a few hundred million years “, said Chuan Huang, a researcher at the Curtin Earth Dynamics Research Group and the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in a press release.

The formation of supercontinents can occur in a variety of ways, scientists believe, because the Earth has been cooling for billions of years. Since its formation, the thickness and strength of the tectonic plates under the oceans has been reducing. This natural process results in the shrinking of the oceans, which formed when Earth’s newest supercontinent broke apart and the various pieces slowly drifted away from each other.

The Earth’s mass, called Pangea, formed about 320 million years ago, according to the study’s authors. It broke up between 170 million and 180 million years ago.

The Pacific Ocean is the oldest ocean on Earth and its formation began 700 million years ago. It started to shrink during the age of the dinosaurs, shrinking by a few centimeters a year, according to the scientists.

Based on the new simulation, the current Pacific Ocean range of 10,000 kilometers (6,213.7 miles) will close in less than 300 million years.

“The resulting new supercontinent has already been named Amasia because some believe the Pacific Ocean will close (as opposed to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans) when America collides with Asia. Australia is also expected to play a role in this important Earth event, first colliding with Asia and then connecting America and Asia when the Pacific Ocean closes,” said Huang.

Australia is currently moving towards Asia at a rate of about 7 centimeters per year, while Europe and the Americas are moving at slower rates towards the Pacific Ocean.

The changes in the new “supercontinent”

With changes in the distribution of continents and oceans, changes in climates will occur. The researchers also expect more earthquakes as continental plates collide.

In addition, the newly formed supercontinent will also have diminished biodiversity.

“Earth as we know it will be drastically different when Amasia forms. The sea level is expected to be lower and the vast interior of the supercontinent will be very arid, with high daily temperatures,” Li said.

Scientists are still trying to understand the cycle of Earth’s supercontinent, which is driven by heat and gravity. The research team wants to establish how Earth’s tectonic plates began and when the first continents formed, as well as what started the supercontinent cycle.

“We’re just beginning to look at the entire Earth system, from core to atmosphere, as a closely linked system that evolved together,” Li said.

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