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Pangea 2.0: In the Future, Earth May Only Have One Supercontinent

Aug 05, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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Can you imagine going from Asia to Australia via train or car?

Geologist Christopher Scotese believes that Earth's continents will eventually be pulled in together to form one supercontinent. The phenomenon, which is expected to happen 250 million years from now, is tagged as Pangea Proxima.

"Fifty million years from now, Australia will be in collision with southeast Asia to a much larger degree," the scientist from the University of Texas told BBC. "Africa will also be pushing right up against southern Europe, while the Atlantic will be a far wider ocean than it is today."

Scotese's prediction was based on studying how the plates are moving today and then extrapolating that movement over time. He then created an animated model showing his prediction shaping up as time elapses.

Experts who have spent years studying the Earth tell us that continents and ocean floors are always on the move. Continents, being chunks of larger plates that make up Earth's crust, are shifting around at different rates.

The concept of movement of continents called continental drift or plate tectonics has been popularized by scientist Alfred Wegener in the early 20th century.

According to National Geographic, Wegener was convinced that all of Earth's continents were once part of an enormous, single landmass called Pangaea.

Over millions of years ago, Pangaea separated into pieces just like a broken jigsaw puzzle and they are dubbed as the continents we see today.

While the prediction of Scotese is exhilarating and promising, Scotese admits it also is highly speculative, saying that the model is probably accurate up to about 50 million years.

According to him, the future will remain uncertain because while innovative technology has the ability to foresee some of the plate movements, some geological phenomenon remains unpredictable.

"In the plate tectonic world, plates do evolve slow and steady until we have one of these plate tectonic catastrophes like continental collisions," he says. "This fundamentally changes plate tectonic regimes."

News Scientist writes that once the Pangea Proxima happens, some land masses will go missing.

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