TechAmasia: a potential supercontinent that will make the Pacific disappear in 300 million years

Amasia: a potential supercontinent that will make the Pacific disappear in 300 million years

Amazja - a new, massive land could form in about 200-300 million years (illustrative image)
Amazja - a new, massive land could form in about 200-300 million years (illustrative image)
Images source: © Unsplash

9:14 AM EST, January 21, 2024

The team of scientists embarked on the task of envisioning what the world could look like following the formation of another supercontinent. They utilized a supercomputer to conduct extensive simulations. As they detail in their article "Will Earth's Next Supercontinent Assemble Through the Closure of the Pacific Ocean?", their calculations indicate that the new supercontinent - Amasia, resulting from the merger of America and Asia, could form in 200-300 million years.

Scientists discuss the possibility of a new supercontinent

"Over the past 2 billion years, the terrestrial continents have collided on average every 600 million years, resulting in supercontinents. This suggests that the existing continents will merge together within the next hundreds of millions of years," emphasized the lead author of the study, Dr. Chuan Huang, a member of the Earth Dynamics Research Group and School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in a press release from Curtin University.

The researchers also bring attention to the fact that Earth has been cooling for billions of years. This phenomenon leads to the gradual reduction of the thickness and strength of tectonic plates beneath the oceans, making the formation of new supercontinents through the closure of 'young' oceans, such as the Atlantic or Indian Ocean, more challenging.

The team's calculations suggest that these "new" oceans will likely remain open during the next cycle of tectonic plate movements. The situation differs with the Pacific Ocean, a remnant of the Panthalassa superocean, which was formed over 700 million years ago. This vast ocean, which at its peak covered approximately 70% of Earth's surface or nearly 140 million square miles, is detailed in a separate article.

"By simulating the evolution of Earth's tectonic plates using a supercomputer, we deduced that the Pacific Ocean will likely close in less than 300 million years, making way for the formation of Amasia, thus challenging some earlier scientific theories," added Chuan Huang.

In their study, scientists highlight that the Pacific diminishes by a few centimeters each year. They forecast that in 200-300 million years, when America collides with Asia, it will most likely cease to exist. Researchers also posit that Australia may play a part in this process, by first colliding with Asia and consequently hastening its union with America.

The formation of a new supercontinent would dramatically impact the natural environment and terrestrial ecosystems. As noted in the press release from Curtin University, expected changes include a decrease in sea levels, the emergence of arid regions in central parts of supercontinents, and significant variances in daily temperatures.

Related content