Behold! The world’s next supercontinent, Amasia

Behold!  The world's next supercontinent, Amasia
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Amasia supercontinent

A possible setting for Amasia 280 million years in the future. Credit: Curtin University

New research has found that the world’s next supercontinent, Amasia, will likely form when the Pacific Ocean closes in 200 to 300 million years.

A research team led by Curtin University used a supercomputer to simulate how a supercontinent forms. They found that because the Earth has been cooling for billions of years, the thickness and strength of the plates under the oceans reduce over time, making it more difficult for the next supercontinent to assemble by closing off the “young” oceans. “, like the Atlantic or the Atlantic. indian oceans. The study was recently published in National Journal of Science.

According to lead author Chuan Huang, of the Curtin Earth Dynamics Research Group and the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, the new findings are significant and provide insight into what would happen to Earth in the next 200 years. millions of years.

“Over the past two billion years, 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,” said Dr. Huang.

“The resulting new supercontinent has already been named Amasia because some believe that the Pacific Ocean will close (unlike the Atlantic and Indian Oceans) when the Americas collide with Asia. Australia is also expected to play a role in this major land event, first colliding with Asia and then connecting the Americas and Asia once the Pacific Ocean closes.

“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 Pacific Ocean is likely to close, allowing Amasia to form, debunking some previous scientific theories. .”

The Pacific Ocean is what remains of the Panthalassa superocean, which began to form 700 million years ago when the previous supercontinent began to break up. It is the oldest ocean we have on Earth and has been shrinking from its maximum size since the time of the dinosaurs. Currently, it is shrinking in size by a few centimeters per year. With its current dimension of about 10,000 kilometers, the Pacific Ocean is expected to take between two and three hundred million years to close.

Having the entire world dominated by a single landmass would drastically alter Earth’s ecosystem and environment, according to co-author John Curtin, the Zheng-Xiang Li Distinguished Professor, also of the Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

“Earth as we know it will be drastically different when Amasia forms. Sea levels are expected to be lower, and the vast interior of the supercontinent will be very arid with high daily temperature ranges,” Professor Li said.

“Currently, the Earth is made up 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.”

Reference: “Will Earth’s Next Supercontinent Be Assembled Through the Closure of the Pacific Ocean?” by Chuan Huang, Zheng-Xiang Li, and Nan Zhang, September 28, 2022, National Journal of Science.
DOI: 10.1093/nsr/nwac205

The research was co-authored by researchers from the Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Peking University in China.

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