In the course of 200 or 250 million years, our planet will be totally different from what is today, because all contemporary continents are gathering in the new "supercontinent." Researchers Mattias Green (University of Bangor, United Kingdom) and Hannah Sophia Davies and Joao C. Duarte (University of Lisbon, Portugal) describe in detail the conversation about the process.
From the beginning, experts have explained that the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust are in constant motion and move at a rate of a few centimeters a year. This means that from time to time, from a geological point of view, continents are connected to a supercontinent that remains several hundred million years together before re-dividing.
The last supercontinent, Pangea, originated about 310 million years ago and began to separate itself 180 million years ago. It is expected to be created in approximately 200 or 250 million years. The interruption of Pangea led to the creation of the Atlantic Ocean, which is still open and expanding, while the Pacific Ocean is closing and tapering. The article's authors also recall that the Pacific Ocean is home to a circle of subduction zones along the edges (the Ring of Fire), while the Atlantic has only two.
According to researchers, there are four basic scenarios for creating another supercontinent: Novopange, Pangea Ultima, Aurica and Amasia.
If the current conditions are maintained – with the opening of the Atlantic and the reduction of the Pacific – another supercontinent will be created on the opposite side of the old Pangea, experts say. America collides with Antarctica, which moved north and then with Africa and Euraja to create so-called Novopange.
If the expansion of the Atlantic slows down and begins to close, its two small subduction arcs could pass through the East Coast of America, which would lead to Pangea's recreation. America, Europe, and Africa reunited in the supercontinent, called Pangea Ultima, surrounded by the Pacific super-ocean.
On the other hand, if new subduction zones were to emerge in the Atlantic, both oceans could be closed and a new ocean tank would have to be created to replace them.
In this scenario, Pan-Asian cracks, which are currently passing through Asia from West India to the Arctic, open up to create a new ocean. The result would be the creation of the Aurica Supercontinent, centered around Australia, now moving north.
Finally, the fourth scenario assumes "a completely different fate for the future Earth," the researchers said. In this sense, they point out that several tectonic plates, including Africa and Australia, are now moving north, which is probably due to the anomalies left by Pangea in the earth's mantle. So you can imagine a scenario in which all continents, except Antarctica, will move north until they come near this Pole in a supercontinent that has been given the hypothetical name of Amasia.
Which scenario is most likely?
Scientists estimate that Novopange is the most likely scenario because it is a logical development of current trends, while the other three cases involve the intervention of other processes.