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Simulation Shows Continents Will Merge Together in Future. But The Union Will Come at a Price

The YouTube channel has come up with a stunning animated representation that shows how different continents are going to merge into one supercontinent.
PUBLISHED MAY 18, 2024
Cover Image Source: YouTube | AGU
Cover Image Source: YouTube | AGU

Before continents were separated by vast oceans between them, they were all just unified as a singular land mass surrounded by water. But as continents keep shifting bit by bit, can they come together once again in the future so that human beings can come closer without having to cross oceans to reach their destinations?

Even if that is possible, it won't happen in our lifetimes, since the merger could take millions of years. That is why scientists have created a virtual scenario to predict how Earth might look like after continents reunite.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Aaditya Arora
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Aaditya Arora

On the YouTube channel of AGU, two stunning animated videos "predict the future formation of the next supercontinent, Pangea Proxima that will slowly take its shape over the next 250 million years. The videos are created by Christopher R. Scotese from PALEOMAP Project/Northwestern University and Ben A. Van der Pluijm from the University of Michigan with Laura Lipuma producing them. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the ancient supercontinent Pangea started to break apart when the tectonic plates moved further away to form the continents that we see now.

The big shift took place about 300-200 million years ago in the late Paleozoic Era until the very late Triassic Era. However, in the animated video, we see the convergence of the landmasses, unlike the last time when the supercontinent broke apart into seven continents. Scientists state that the tectonic plates move one to two inches every year, as per indy100. Oceanographer Mattias Green's studies have also inspired the animation created by AGU.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kuba Karoń
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kuba Karoń

"It probably doesn't mean anything to humans now in our lifetime," he said in a 2018 statement, as per the outlet. "But it does enhance our understanding of interactions between plate tectonics, Earth's climate system, its oceans, and even how the evolution of life is, at least to some extent, driven by this tidal process." He added that the "simulations suggest that the tides were weak up until 200 million years ago, and they've since shot up and become very energetic over the past two million years." 

If continents keep shifting at this rate, a second supercontinent will be formed after millions of years. However, the Smithsonian Magazine has shed light on another startling fact about Pangea Proxima. Scientists have been looking into determining what will happen to mammals in the future if the merger of the continents takes place. Hannah Davies, a geologist at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences told Nature News’ Jonathan O’Callaghan that extinction that took place in the past will possibly happen in the future as well.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

“I think life will make it through this one. It’s just kind of a grim period," she told the publication. According to Science's Elise Cutts, when the supercontinent forms "volcanic activity will increase, blasting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the researchers posit. Much of the supercontinent will be flat and far from the ocean. The scientists also predict a slowing of the CO2-trapping chemical reactions that typically take place between rock and water." Earth will be a target of more intense solar radiation and as a result, it will be difficult for several life forms to survive.



 

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