The Pacific Ocean is closing in on itself and will form a new supercontinent called Amasia, according to scientists.
Experts in Australia say the Pacific Ocean is slowly but steadily getting smaller, perhaps by about an inch a year.
As it does so, the tectonic plates on which America rests are pushed westward.
At some point – though not for 200 or 300 million years – Earth’s land masses will join with the Americas and Asia colliding to create a new supercontinent: Amasia,
Using supercomputer simulations, scientists at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, have predicted that a new supercontinent will form.
“Earth’s known supercontinents are thought to have formed in very different ways, with two end members being introversion and extroversion,” they write in National Science Review.
“The first involves the closure of internal oceans that formed during the breakup of the previous supercontinent, while the second involves the closure of the previous outer superocean.”
They add: “However, it is not clear what caused such divergent behavior of the supercontinent cycles involving first-order interaction between the descending tectonic plates and the mantle. Here we address this question through 4-D geodynamic modeling using realistic tectonic settings.”
2012 Report at Science he said the geologic record “reveals that in the last 2 billion years or so, there have been three supercontinents.”
New models of Earth’s tectonic plates and geological provinces developed by scientists
The oldest known supercontinent, Nuna, came together about 1.8 billion years ago. The next, Rodinia, existed about 1 billion years ago, and the most recent, Pangea, joined about 300 million years ago.
Lead author Chuan Huang, from Curtin’s Earth Dynamics Research Group said: “Over the past 2 billion years, Earth’s continents have collided with each other to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, known as a supercontinent cycle. This means that today’s continents are going to come together again in a few hundred million years.”
He added: “The resulting new supercontinent has already been named Amasia because some believe the Pacific Ocean will be closed (as opposed to the Atlantic and Indian oceans) when America collides with Asia. Australia is also expected to play a role in this major Earth event, first colliding with Asia and then connecting America to Asia once the Pacific Ocean closes.’
He said that by simulating how the Earth’s tectonic plates are expected to evolve using a supercomputer, “we were able to show that in less than 300 million years it is likely to be the Pacific Ocean that will close, allowing Amasia to form, breaking down some previous scientific theories”.