For 200 or 250 million years, our planet will look completely different than today, as all modern continents are combined into a new “supercontinent”. Researchers Matthias Green (University of Bangor, United Kingdom) and Hanna Sophia Davis and Joao S. Duarte (University of Lisbon, Portugal) described in detail in the article “Conversation” what this process will be.
From the very beginning, experts explain that the tectonic plates that make up the crust are in constant motion, moving at a speed of several centimeters per year. This means that from time to time in geological terms, the continents are combined into a supercontinent, which remains together for several hundred million years before dividing again.
Last supercontinent Pangea, was formed about 310 million years ago and began to separate about 180 million years ago. The next one is expected to be created in about 200 or 250 million years. The rupture of Pangea led to the formation of the Atlantic Ocean, which still opens and expands, and the Pacific Ocean closes and narrows. The authors also recall that in the Pacific there is a ring of subduction zones along its edges (Ring of Fire), while in the Atlantic there are only two.
According to the researchers, there are four main scenarios for the formation of the next supercontinent: Novopanga, Pangea Ultima, Aurika and Amasia.
If current conditions are preserved — with the discovery of the Atlantic and a decrease in the Pacific Ocean — the next supercontinent will form on the opposite side of the old Pangea, experts say. North America will face Antarctica, which will move to the north, and then with already joined Africa and Eurasia, to create the so-called Novopanga.
If the expansion of the Atlantic slows down and begins to close, its two small subduction arcs may extend along the east coast of America, which will lead to the re-creation of Pangea. America, Europe and Africa would again be united in a supercontinent, now called Pangea Ultima, which would be surrounded by a Pacific superhero.
On the other hand, if new subduction zones appear in the Atlantic, both oceans may be closed and a new ocean basin will have to be created to replace them.
In this case, a nationwide rift that currently crosses Asia from western India to the Arctic will open to form this new ocean. The result will be the formation of the Aurik supercontinent, the center of which will be Australia, currently drifting north.
Finally, the fourth scenario assumes “a completely different fate for the future Earth,” the researchers note. In this sense, they emphasize that some tectonic plates, including Africa and Australia, are currently moving to the north, a process allegedly caused by anomalies left by Pangea in the Earth’s mantle. So you can imagine a scenario in which all the continents, with the exception of Antarctica, continue to move northward until they join this pole in the supercontinent, which was given the hypothetical name Amasia.
What is the most likely scenario?
Scientists believe that Novopangea is the most likely scenario, because this is a logical course of current trends, while in the other three cases it is about the intervention of additional processes.