Meet Amasia, the Next Supercontinent

by Sid Perkins

Over the next few hundred million years, the Arctic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea will disappear, and Asia will crash into the Americas forming a supercontinent that will stretch across much of the Northern Hemisphere. That’s the conclusion of a new analysis of the movements of these giant landmasses.

Unlike in today’s world, where a variety of tectonic plates move across Earth’s surface carrying the bits of crust that we recognize as continents, ancient Earth was home to supercontinents, which combined most if not all major landmasses into one. Previous studies suggest that supercontinents last about 100 million years or so before they break apart, setting the pieces adrift to start another cycle.

The geological record reveals that in the past 2 billion years or so, there have been three supercontinents, says Ross Mitchell, a geophysicist at Yale University. 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, Pangaea, came together about 300 million years ago. In the lengthy intervals between supercontinents, continent-sized-and-smaller landmasses drifted individually via plate tectonics, as they do today…

(read: Science NOW)    

(image: 100 million years from now, adapted from Mitchell et al., Nature)

Sven dormiu nervoso, e acordou pior ainda. Só pregou os olhos por 3 horas e depois de ter um sonho muito estranho e constrangedor com Ludmilla que envolvia aventais cor de rosa, não conseguiu mais dormir quieto, sentindo uma formigação desconhecida entre as pernas que com certeza o pertubaria o resto do dia. Frans, que era o mais animado com a ideia de nadar no lago que ficava na fronteira de amasia com os distritos, acordou cedo para despertar todos os outros e arrumá-los. Perguntaram por que Sven estava tão estranho, e ele apenas fazia que não com a cabeça, sem saber como responder verbalmente sem parecer que estava contando uma grande mentira. Depois que todas as crianças estavam arrumadas e juntas perto da porta, Sven foi se trocar, finalmente.

Hans estava notando, mas preferia observar e tirar suas próprias conclusões. “Agora só falta a Lud!” Disse Frans. Era isso. Isso o que o preocupava.

Fifty million to 200 million years from now, geologists expect Earth’s continents to smash together into one big supercontinent, just as they’ve done repeatedly in our planet’s distant past — and a new computer model suggests that the Arctic Ocean and Caribbean Sea will be among the first things to go.

Change is the only constant. I have to keep reminding myself of that sometimes. As it was before, it will be again: the continents of Earth will come together into a massive supercontinent. The land, the earth—something that seems and feels immutable—flows and floats above an incomprehensible ocean of fire. The model mentioned above projects that in an unimaginable span of time the continents will group around the North Pole as the supercontinent ‘Amasia.’

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