Tech UPTechnologyAmasia: this is how the next supercontinent will form

Amasia: this is how the next supercontinent will form

Geologists believe that every few hundred million years the continents combine to create massive supercontinents. The most famous past supercontinent is probably Pangea, which existed at the end of the Paleozoic era and the beginning of the Mesozoic era and contained most of the Earth’s landmasses. It began to separate about 175 million years ago , disintegrating until reaching the current situation of the continents. It was the first supercontinent to be reconstructed by geologists.

When Pangea split 175 million years ago, it gave rise to the formation of the ring of fire or belt of fire , a set of subduction zones along the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean characterized by being some of the most important seismic and volcanic regions and active in the world.

“For the past 2 billion years, the Earth’s continents have collided to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, known as the supercontinent cycle. This means that the current continents will come together again in a couple of hundred million years.” years,” says Chuan Huang, co-author of the paper published in the National Science Review.

And what will the next supercontinent look like?

A team of researchers from Curtin University and Peking University used a supercomputer to simulate how a supercontinent forms (recreating how Earth’s tectonic plates will move in the next 300 million years) and found that because the Earth has been cooling for billions of years , the thickness and strength of the plates beneath the oceans are shrinking over time, making it more difficult to assemble the next supercontinent.

Of course, the simulation showed that in 200 million years, all the world’s continents will merge into a single new supercontinent known as “Amasia”. And it is likely to form when the Pacific Ocean, the oldest of the oceans (the one left over from the Panthalassa Superocean that began to form 700 million years ago), closes in 200 to 300 million years, as it is currently being reducing in size a few centimeters per year.

The result: Amasia

“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 the Americas collide with Asia. Australia is also expected to play a role in this major terrestrial event, first colliding with Asia and then connecting America and Asia once the Pacific Ocean closes in. By simulating how Earth’s tectonic plates are expected to evolve using a supercomputer, we were able to show that in less than 300 million years the ocean is likely to Pacific to close, allowing the formation of Amasia, discrediting some previous scientific theories .”

The researchers also evaluated how this supermass would affect Earth’s biodiversity. According to Zheng-Xiang Li, co-author of the study, the sea level of Amasia would be quite low, the interiors would be quite dry, and the daily temperature ranges would be much higher. Their ecosystems would naturally be completely different from what we have today.

“Currently, the Earth consists of seven continents with very different ecosystems and human cultures, so it would be fascinating to think what the world will look like in 200 to 300 million years,” Li concludes.

“Having the entire world dominated by a single landmass would drastically alter the Earth’s ecosystem and environment,” Zheng-Xiang Li said. “Earth as we know it will be drastically different when Amasia forms.”

Referencia: Chuan Huang et al. Will Earth’s next supercontinent assemble through the closure of the Pacific Ocean? National Science Review, published online September 28, 2022; doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwac205

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