The outer layer of the Earth, the firm bark we walk is made up of broken pieces, much like the cloak of a broken egg. These pieces, tectonic plates, move around the planet a few centimeters a year.
Every so often they gather and connect to the supercontinent, which remains for several hundred million years before it collapses. The boards are then scattered, scattered and separated from each other, eventually returning together, after another 400-600 million years, the Conversation reports.
The last supercontinent, Pangea, formed about 310 million years ago and began to break about 180 million years ago. It has been suggested that another supercontinent will be created in 200-250 million years, so we are about halfway through the dispersed phase of the current supercontinent cycle.
The question is: what will another supercontinent look like and why?
There are four basic scenarios for creating a new supercontinent: Novopange, Pangea Ultima, Aurica and Amasia. How individual forms depend on different scenarios, but ultimately they are linked to how Pangea has separated and how the continents of the world are still taking place.
The collapse of Pangea led to the formation of the Atlantic Ocean, which is still opening and expanding today. As a result, the Pacific Ocean closes and narrows.
The Pacific Ocean is home to a circle of subduction zones along its edges ("the fire ring"), where the ocean floor is sunk down or subducted beneath the continental shelves and into the interior of the Earth. There, the old ocean floor is recycled and can get into volcanic beads.
On the contrary, the Atlantic has a great ocean ridge that produces a new ocean plate, but it is only home to two subduction zones: the Arc of the Small Antilles in the Caribbean, and the Arc of Scotland between South America and Antarctica.
If we assume that the current situation persists, so the Atlantic continues to open and the Pacific Ocean is still closing, we have a scenario in which Pangea's counterparts create another supercontinent. America would collide with the northern Antarctic and then into the already precipitated Africa – Eurasia. The supercontinent that would then be created was called Novopange or Novopanga.
2. Pangea Ultima
However, the opening of the Atlantic may slow down and, in fact, begin to close in the future. Two small arcs of subduction in the Atlantic could spread all over the east coast of America, leading to the Pangea reform, while America, Europe and Africa will come back to the supercontinent Pangea Ultima. This new supercontinent would be surrounded by a large Pacific Ocean.
However, if the Atlantic developed a new subduction zone – something that can already be done – the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean may be closed. This means that a new ocean tank should be created to replace them.
In this scenario, the Pan-Asian split, which is currently passing through Asia from west India to the Arctic, forms a new ocean. The result is the creation of Aurica supercontinent. Due to the current northern current of Australia, it would be at the heart of a new continent where East Asia and America close the Pacific from both sides. The European and African plates will then return to America when the Atlantic closes.
The fourth scenario predicts a completely different fate for the future Earth. Several tectonic plates are currently moving north, including Africa and Australia. This drift is believed to be driven by the anomalies left by Pangea, deep in the Earth's space, in part called a mantle. Because of this northern drift, it is possible to assume a scenario where continents, except Antarctica, are still moving north.
This means that they eventually gather around the North Pole in the supercontinent Amasia. In this scenario, the Atlantic and Pacific would mostly remain open.
Of these four scenarios, we believe that Novopange is most likely. This is the logical development of the direction of today's continental plate shift, while the other three assume that another process will enter the game. For Aurik, there would have to be new zones of Aduka, a reversal of the Atlantic Pangea Ultima or an anomaly in the interior of Earth that Pangea had left for the Amasia.
Investigating the Tectonic Future Earth forces us to push the limits of our knowledge and think about the processes that have shaped our planet for a long time.
It also leads us to think about the system of the Earth as a whole and raises a number of other questions – what will the climate of the next supercontinent be?
How does ocean circulation adapt? How will life evolve and adapt? These are issues that further push the boundaries of science as they move the boundaries of our imagination.