About 250 million years ago, a single landmass emerged from the ocean: Pangea. Over time, pieces broke off and pursued their own destinies—eventually becoming the continents we know today. However, they are not static: the continents move under the influence of the plates, creating volcanism and earthquakes
Pangea is not the only supercontinent that has dominated the Earth. One can especially think of Rodinia, another example of the genre. It is even possible that the continents develop in a cycle: they separate, move apart and finally come together again.
One theory, developed in the 1980s, suggests that today’s continents should quietly undergo the same process and converge again. Ultimately, another mega-continent was to form as follows: Pangea Proxima. Given that the continents are already moving, the new pangea theory suggests that the continental blocks will follow a well-established trend.
It’s important to keep in mind that all of this is speculation. The future of the planet is impossible to predict with precision in such a long term. However, let’s be warmed by the hypothesis…
What would Earth look like if a new Pangea were to materialize?
The main characteristic of the pangea proxima scenario lies in the disappearance of the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, the body of water tends to expand under the influence of tectonic plates at a rate of two to three centimeters per year. A twist: this direction could be reversed. A subduction zone, where less dense oceanic plates sink beneath continental plates, may eventually form, forcing the ocean to slowly lose surface area. Like a tablecloth that is suddenly pulled from a table, the plate takes everything with it. In the manuscript Pangea Proxima, the Atlantic would become an inland sea, sandwiched between the remnants of Africa and the Americas. However, the exact mechanisms of this transformation are still uncertain.
America would have no choice but to follow suit and start a fatal race against Africa and Europe.
Africa, in turn, would collide with Europe and at the same time engulf the Mediterranean. The process has already begun: the African continent is moving very slowly towards Italy and Greece under the influence of the African plate. The same activity gave birth to the Pyrenees and the Alps. If the ground of Turkey shakes from time to time, it is also because of this slow movement. An impressive mountain range the size of the Himalayas – or even larger – is expected to emerge from the impact of this collision in southern Europe. Farewell to the Mediterranean!
Same scenario for Australia, which would also migrate north towards the Asian continent. The two were to merge into one and swallow Indonesia, Malaysia and part of Thailand at once.
Source: Davies et al., 2018 | NASA, 2000 | Townsend Harris, 2019
SEE ALSO: Discovery of an eighth continent!