The land on which we walk consists of tectonic plates that move around the planet at a speed of several centimeters per year, then joining together in a supercontinent, then again breaking apart. According to scientists, the next supercontinent will be formed in 200-250 million years.
The last supercontinent Pangea was formed about 310 million years ago and began to disintegrate about 180 million years ago. Regarding the following merger, specialists have four main scenarios: Novopangeya, Pangea Ultima, Aurika and Amazia. Each form depends on different factors, but in the end everything is connected with the way Pangea is divided and which route the world continents travel today.
The collapse of Pangea led to the formation of the Atlantic Ocean, which is still expanding. Consequently, the Pacific Ocean is shrinking and becoming narrower. It houses a ring of subduction zones along its perimeter, known as the Pacific Ring of Fire – an area in which most active volcanoes are located and many earthquakes occur. The Atlantic Ocean, in contrast, has a large oceanic ridge producing a new oceanic plate, and only two subduction zones.
If we assume that the current trends will not change and the Atlantic will continue to open, thus closing the Quiet, then a scenario will arise when the next supercontinent will be the complete opposite of Pangea. America will face drifting Antarctica, and then with the already united Africa-Eurasia.
Novopangea / © The Conversation
2. Pangea Ultima
However, the opening of the Atlantic can slow down and even go in the opposite direction. The two subduction zones of the Atlantic Ocean can potentially spread across all the eastern coasts of America, which will lead to the reconstruction of the Pangea similarity in the form of a unified North and South America, Europe and Africa and the formation of a new supercontinent surrounded by a large Pacific Ocean.
Pangea Ultima / © The Conversation
If new subduction zones appear in the Atlantic Ocean – which may well happen – then the Pacific and Atlantic oceans will be doomed to decrease. This means that a new ocean basin can form. In this scenario, the Pan-Asian split, today passing through Asia from the west of India to the Arctic, will create a new ocean. As a result, Aurik supercontinent is formed. Due to Australia’s current drift towards the north, it will be at the center of a new continent, as East Asia and North America will close the Pacific on both sides. Then the European and African plates will be reunited with America, closing the Atlantic.
The fourth scenario predicts a completely different fate for Earth. Now some tectonic plates are moving to the north, including Africa and Australia. It is believed that this drift is caused by anomalies left by Pangea in the Earth’s mantle. Because of this northern drift, a scenario may be envisaged where the continents, with the exception of Antarctica, continue to drift northward. Consequently, they will eventually gather around the North Pole in a supercontinent called Amasia. In this scenario, both the Atlantic and the Pacific will remain open.
Amazia / © The Conversation
Of these four scenarios, experts consider the variant of Novopanga to be the most likely. This follows the logic of the movement of the current continents – the other three scenarios suggest the sudden appearance of completely different processes.