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Amasia: This is what the supercontinent of the future will look like

Amasia will be the next supercontinent to appear on Earth and will arise from the disappearance of the Pacific Ocean.

When talking about geological history, it is often thought that the only supercontinent that has existed on our planet is the famous Pangaea. However, the Earth has existed for over 4.5 billion years, and its history is so extensive that more than one supercontinent has existed in the past. It is to be expected that the future will not be the exception and that, in a few million years, a new supercontinent will emerge from the collisions between land masses, one called Amasia.

From Pangaea to Amasia

Pangaea was the last supercontinent to exist on the planet before the continents we now know were formed. It was formed by the movement of tectonic plates and soil dynamics 335 million years ago, in the Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. At that time, there was only Pangaea, surrounded by a single gigantic ocean until it began to fracture 175 million years ago and ended up forming the continents we know today.

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The world was then divided into two large bodies of water, an inner one surrounded by continental plates and an outer one. According to research, these portions of land will one day come together again on a large new island. Although this time, it seems that the course of the continents will be different and will not be able to go back to what it was before.

Supercontinents can form in two ways, either by the closure of internal or external oceans. Although in the present case of the Earth, there is very little chance that the continental plates will be rejoined by the inner water mass. In that sense, it is very unlikely that the Americas will rejoin the coasts of Europe and West Africa. Instead, there is evidence that the Atlantic is widening faster and faster, so it is most likely that the new supercontinent, which has been called Amasia, will eventually disappear into the Pacific Ocean.

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The Pacific will disappear

The Atlantic Ocean is currently growing a few centimeters per year, while the Pacific is shrinking at a similar rate. Researchers believe that it will take about 280 million years for the inland bodies of water to eventually expand and disappear completely into the Pacific. Then a new supercontinent called Amasia will emerge.

Although other assumptions still believe that Amasia could form due to the coming together of the continents through the disappearance of the inner water bodies, Zheng Xiang Li of Curtin University believes that this is not possible in any way.

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The movements of the continents depend largely on the strength of the oceanic crust between them. Only when the crust is strong can the continents change direction and come together across the inner oceans. But Li and his team explain that when the mantle cools, the oceanic crust above it becomes thinner and therefore weaker.

According to Li, there is evidence that 540 million years ago, the Earth’s temperature cooled enough to weaken the crust to such an extent that a reversal of direction as many assume is no longer possible. Instead, the continents will continue their outward course, with the Atlantic widening more and more and the Pacific slowly disappearing, until finally, the tectonic bales end up concentrating again into a single supercontinent, the so-called Amasia.

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Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera

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