We spend a lot of time thinking about the future in the short term. Will AIs unleash a nuclear war by 2040? Will we live on a greenhouse land from here 2100? But what about the path, way Far future – what will the Earth look like in, say, 200 million years?
On the one hand, the geology will certainly not be the same. According to an international team of researchers, our planet is 200 or 250 million years from the formation of a new supercontinent – a giant land mass made up of the seven continents we currently know and love – and they think they have a pretty good idea. what will it look like?
The Earth's crust consists of 12 tectonic plates in very slow and constant motion. These plates are all assembled and then separated in a cycle that lasts about 400 to 600 million years. The last time the plates were assembled, about 310 million years ago, before the time of the dinosaurs, they then formed the supercontinent of Pangea.
To determine what the next supercontinent might look like, the researchers analyzed the history of Earth's plate tectonics and ongoing tectonic activity. From that, they proposed four possible configurations of the supercontinent, called Novopangea, Pangea Ultima, Aurica and Amasia.
The researchers believe that Novopangea is the most likely scenario because it would result from the persistence of current conditions. The remaining three scenarios would only be the result of a major change in Earth's plate tectonics, such as the influence of an anomaly in the interior of the planet that still needs to be addressed. develop.
Although we obviously do not know which of these scenarios – if any – actually materializes, the researchers did not undertake this project just for the sake of it. As they note in an article published in The conversation:
The investigation of the Earth's tectonic future requires us to push the boundaries of our knowledge and reflect on the processes that shape our planet in the long term. This also brings us to think about the Earth system as a whole and raises a series of other questions: what will be the climate of the next supercontinent? How is ocean circulation going to adjust? How will life evolve and adapt? These are the kinds of questions that push the boundaries of science because they push the limits of our imagination.
READ MORE: What might planet earth look like when the next supercontinent is formed – four scenarios[[[[The conversation]