A new study by researchers at Curtin University, Australia, has found that when the Pacific Ocean becomes an inland sea, the next planetary supercontinent called Amasia is likely to form in 200 to 300 million years.
The work, published in National Science Review, required the use of a supercomputer to simulate the formation of these giant continents; Researchers have thus discovered that as the Earth has been cooling for billions of years, the thickness and strength of the tectonic plates underlying the oceans decreases over time, complicating the phenomenon of the formation of the next supercontinent by forming the “young oceans”. getting closed. , like the Atlantic or the Indian Ocean.
According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Chuan Huang, the results of the work are important and shed light on what will happen to our planet in the next 200 million years.
“For the past two billion years, Earth’s continents have telescoped together every 600 million years to form a continent known as the supercontinent cycle. That means today’s continents must come together again within a few hundred million years,” he said.
“The resulting supercontinent has already been dubbed Amasia because some people believe that if America collides with Asia, the Pacific Ocean (unlike the Atlantic and Indian Oceans) will be closed. Australia is also expected to play a role in this important planetary event, first telescoping Asia and then connecting to the Americas and Asia once the Pacific closes. »
“Using a supercomputer to simulate how Earth’s tectonic plates are expected to evolve, we were able to show that in less than 300 million years, the Pacific is likely to close, allowing for the formation of the ‘Amasia, contradicting some existing scientific theories contradicts . »
The Pacific is what remains of the Panthalassa superocean, which formed 700 million years ago when the previous supercontinent began to break up. It is the oldest ocean on our planet and has decreased in size since its peak in dinosaur times. It is currently shrinking at a few centimeters per year and its current size of about 10,000 square kilometers should take 200 to 300 million years to close.
Study co-author Zheng-Xiang Li believes that the existence of a single landmass will radically transform Earth’s ecosystems and environment.
“Earth as we know it will be profoundly changed with the appearance of Amasia. Sea levels are projected to be lower, and the supercontinent’s vast interior will be very dry, with particularly high daytime temperatures,” said Prof Li.
“Right now the Earth is made up of seven continents with vastly different ecosystems and hundreds of human cultures, so it would be fascinating to imagine what our world might look like 200 to 300 million years from now. »