The future of the world: how will the next ‘supercontinent’ be?

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The future of the world: how will the next ‘supercontinent’ be?

About 500 years ago, the Flemish cartographer Gerads Mercator created one of the most important maps in the world. This was not the first attempt at m

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About 500 years ago, the Flemish cartographer Gerads Mercator created one of the most important maps in the world. This was not the first attempt at mapping the world and it was not so accurate. For example, Australia does not exist and North and South America are not shown correctly.

His successors sought to correct Mercator’s errors and to draw better maps than ever before, including correcting the biases between the hemisphere and the latitude created by his sketches. But Mercator’s map, along with other maps produced by his 16th-century contemporaries, paints a realistic picture of the earth’s surface, an idea that has remained in people’s minds ever since.

Original map of Mercator made in 1569

Mercator did not know that the order of the continents was not always the same because they existed about 400 years before the theory of tectonic plates was confirmed.

Given the position of the seven continents on the map, it is easy to see that they have always been in one place. For centuries, human beings have been waging wars and peace in order to prove their occupation of these areas, on the assumption that the land of them and their neighbors has always been here and will remain forever.

From Earth’s point of view, however, continents are like leaves floating in a pond. And human concerns are raindrops on the leaf surface. The seven continents used to be one, which was called a super continent or penguin. And before that there is evidence of other continents spanning over three billion years, including Pinocia, Rodinia, Colombia / Nuna, Kenorland and Ar.

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Geologists know that continents are scattered and come together in cycles. We are halfway through such a cycle. So what kind of super-continent could Earth have in the future? How will the land mass, which we have known for a very long time, be rearranged?

It turns out that we can come up with at least four different ways. And they show that the creatures that live on Earth will one day live on a very different planet, which looks like an alien world. For geologist Joao Duarte at the University of Lisbon, the search for future continents of the Earth began with an extraordinary event in the past. It was an earthquake that struck Portugal on Saturday morning, November 1755.

It was one of the strongest earthquakes in the last 250 years, killing 60,000 people and triggering a tsunami in the Atlantic Ocean. What made it particularly strange was its location. “You shouldn’t have big earthquakes in the Atlantic,” says Duarte. It was weird. ”

Earthquakes of this magnitude usually occur in or near large subduction zones, where oceanic plates sink beneath continents and melt into hot lava. These include conflict and destruction. The 1755 earthquake, however, occurred along an ‘inactive’ boundary, where the ocean floor beneath the Atlantic Ocean easily merged into the continents of Europe and Africa.

In 2016, Duarte and his colleagues put forward a hypothetical theory: the stitches between the plates may be loosening, and it’s time for a massive explosion. “It can be a kind of contagious process,” he says, “or like breaking glass between two small holes in a car’s windscreen.” If so, a subduction zone could be created to extend from the Mediterranean to West Africa and possibly extend to Ireland and the United Kingdom, bringing volcanoes, mountains and earthquakes to these regions.

Duarte thought that if this happened, it could eventually lead to the closure of the Atlantic Ocean. And if the Pacific Ocean continues to close, which is already happening with the ‘Ring of Fire’ around it, it will eventually become a super continent. They call it Orica, because at its center are the former Land Masses of Australia and the United States.

If the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were closed, the supercontinent would become Oreca
After publishing his proposal for Orica, Duarte began to think about other future scenarios. However, this was not the only continental trajectory or orbit suggested by geologists.

He began a conversation with Matthew Green, a marine expert at Bangor University in Wales. They both deal with their confidence as they choose to embark on their play activities. “This person should have been a little bit special, who wouldn’t mind studying something that would never happen in human life,” he says. This special person is his colleague Hannah Davis, another geologist at the University of Lisbon.

“My job was to transform the drawings and sketches of past geologists into something that is quantitative, geographical and digital,” she says. The idea was to create models that other scientists could advance. And improve. But it was not an easy task. “What we’re worried about is that it’s an incredibly creative subject,” says Davis. It’s not like a regular scientific dissertation.

We wanted to say, well, we understand that much about plate tectonics 40 or 50 years later. And that’s what we understand about mental dynamics, and all the other components of the system. How far can we take this knowledge in the future? ‘ This led to four scenarios. In addition to developing a more detailed model of the Orica, he worked on three other possibilities, each of which was about 200 to 250 million years from now.

The first was what would happen if it continued like this: the Atlantic Ocean remained open and the Pacific Ocean closed. In this scenario, the newly formed supercontinent would be called Novopangia. “It’s the easiest and most comprehensible thing to do, based on what we now understand,” says Davis. If that tectonic operation continues as we know it, it will become neopangia. However, there may be future geological events that could lead to different sequences.

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An example of this is the Ortho version, in which the Arctic Ocean closes and the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean remain open. It reverses the dominant tectonic expansion trends, and as the continents move north, they all converge around the North Pole, except for Antarctica.

The continent formed in this scenario is called Amasia

As the continents grow north, so will Amasia.
Finally, it is possible that the ocean floor, which stretches across the Atlantic Ocean, will slow down. In the middle of the ocean, between the two plates, there is a huge piece separating them, which goes from Iceland to the ‘South Sea’.

Here, a new lithosphere is forming, converging inside like a conveyor belt. If this expansion slows down or stops, and if a new sub-plate boundary forms along the east coast of the United States, you will find a super-continent called Pangia Ultima, which is made up of huge coral reef island. Sounds like:

Penguin Ultima is still surrounded by a large ocean

These four digital models mean that geologists now have the basis to test other theories. For example, scenarios can help scientists understand the effects of different continental arrangements on tides, as well as the climate of the deeper future, what the weather will be like in a world with a vast ocean and giant land mass.

“You can’t use the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) models to model the climate of the supercontinent because they weren’t designed to do that,” says Duarte. You can’t change the variables you need to change. ‘Models of Earth’s future supercontinents can also act as a proxy for understanding the planet’s climate. “The land of the future is completely alien,” says Davis. If you are in orbit above Orica or Novopengia, you may not recognize it as Earth, but as another planet with similar colors.

This insight compelled the three to collaborate with Michael Way, a physicist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Together with his colleagues, he tried to study the effects of variations on our own geological time scale by examining their effects on alien worlds.

“We have so many examples of what a mild climate looks like, to be honest, there is only one example: and that is the earth, but the earth has come to us through time,” says Michael. We have scenarios of the past, but moving to the future and using these wonderful tectonic models for the future gives us another collection for our collection. You need such models because it can be difficult to figure out what to look for when analyzing potentially habitable planets.

For example, you want to know if a planet has a continental cycle, because the presence of life and active plate tectonics may be well connected. Continental management can also affect the possibility of liquid water. You can’t see the continents through binoculars, and you can only guess at the setting of the atmosphere.

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What will be the order of the continents in alien worlds

Michael’s super continental season models revealed some amazing variations in all four scenarios. Amasia, for example, will lead to a much colder planet than the rest. Due to the concentration of the Earth around the North Pole and the low probability of carrying hot currents to the cold latitudes of the oceans, ice sheets will form. In contrast, Oreca will have a pleasant center with a dry center and its beaches will be like today’s Brazil where there will be more water.

It is helpful to know all of this, because if there are plate tectonics on an expo planet like Earth, then we cannot know what stage it is in the cycle of the supercontinent now, and so we need to know that it is inhabited. What to look for and tactics to help ease the way. We should not assume that the earth will disappear in the middle of the cycle.

As far as the future of our own planet is concerned, Davis says the landscapes of the four super-continents are based on speculation, and there may be unexpected geological surprises that could change the results. “If I had Tardes to go and see, I wouldn’t be surprised that in 250 million years the supercontinent didn’t look like any of these scenarios,” she says. There are a number of factors involved. ”

However, what can be said for sure is that the lands we do not value will one day appear in a completely new order. Countries that have ever been isolated will become close neighbors. And if there were intelligent creatures on Earth at that time, they would not see the ocean traveling between the ancient ruins of New York, Beijing, Sydney and London.