The Next Supercontinent

Amasia Map

The continents as they appear today and as they may appear in about 100 million years. Maps: Mitchell et al, Nature.

Move over Pangaea, your days as Earth’s most famous supercontinent may be coming to an end—in about 100 million years. That’s the theory put forth by Ross Mitchell, a geologist at Yale University, in a new study published in the journal Nature.

In the early 1900s Alfred Wegener famously proposed the idea that Earth’s tectonic plates are slowly moving around the planet. About 300 million years ago a single landmass, or supercontinent, called Pangaea was centered on the present-day location of West Africa. As the plates continued their slow drift, Pangaea broke apart and formed the continents and oceans we know today.

Mitchell’s research involving the magnetic orientation in ancient rocks led him to conclude that the continents are slowly moving northward and will eventually form a supercontinent centered on the Arctic. According to Mitchell, this tectonic plate movement will fuse the Americas and Eurasia, forming a new supercontinent called Amasia.

Mitchell discussed his research and supercontinent modeling on the February 9, 2012, Nature Podcast.

More on this topic:

‘Amasia’: The Next Supercontinent? from All Things Considered on National Public Radio

—Tim Hill

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “The Next Supercontinent

  1. If we manage to still be around this far in the future, would we be able to survive living in the arctic? It looks like a lot of land would be uninhabitable, not counting advances in technology.

  2. This is very interesting, I have never heard of Pangaea. I dont necesarily believe in this article because their has been so many predictions about the world ending.
    It looks like in the picture that the land is just colliding together to make the land bigger, so my question is why does Ross think that earths most famous supercotinent will end?
    I dont see any land disappearing…

    • Good questions. Earth’s landmasses are on giant tectonic plates that are slowly moving. Pangaea is the name that was given to the giant “supercontinent” that existed that last time all of the landmasses were bunched together. Because it is the most recent supercontinent, Pangaea is perhaps the most familiar. Pangaea broke apart as the tectonic plates slowly moved apart (very slowly) to form the continents we know today. (The USGS has maps that illustrate this at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/historical.html.) The research published in Nature used modeling to try to predict how the continents will bunch up again (millions of years in the future) based on the very slow movements of the tectonic plates. None of the landmasses disappear; they just change positions.

      • I think Ross is just saying a new super continent will be formed, and therefore Pangaea won’t be the the most recent super continent anymore. I agree with Laura though, many predictions are made that don’t necessarily happen, although scientific evidence may suggest that this looks likely in the future that is not to say that it will happen. It would be very interesting though, I can’t help but wonder how this connection, if it did happen, would affect global relations and cultural differences. Since different cultures would be located physically closer to others, would we see one mass culture that is separated into sub-cultures with less differences? It would be interesting to see 🙂

  3. If in this future time we will be able to survive in this North Pole area, then can you imagine the political and social changes the world will face? It is kind of a mind boggling topic. How will people coinhabit the so-called Amasia?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s