Study: A supercontinent on the horizon

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    (Photo by Reto Stockli, NASA Earth Observatory)

    In 50 million to 200 million years, Asia and the Americas will merge and form a supercontinent reminiscent of Pangaea, according to a new study by Yale University scientists.

    The study, published in Nature journal, predicts that Africa and Australia will join together as well. This shift in geography is expected to be the next joining of the Earth’s land masses since 300 million years ago, when the continents were thought to have merged into a supercontinent called PangaeaBBC News reported.

    Researchers have long thought that this new continent, often referred to as Amasia, would form either in the same location as Pangaea (over the Atlantic near present-day Africa) or on the other side of the earth near the equator, the New York Times reported. However, thw study suggests that Amasia will actually form over the Arctic Ocean.

    “The fusion of North and South America together will close the Caribbean Sea and meet Eurasia at the present-day North Pole,” Ross Nelson Mitchell, a geologist at Yale University and one of the study’s researchers, told the Times. “And Australia is moving north, and would probably snuggle to join Asia somewhere between India and Japan.”

    The scientists studied the magnetism in ancient rocks in order to map where they were positioned; then, they measured how the material moves the continents, Discovery News reported.

    Mitchell and his colleagues believe that Amasia’s future location is part of a pattern, according to the study. Pangaea formed at about 90 degrees to the previous supercontinent, Rodinia, and Rodinia at about 90 degrees to Nuna, which existed around 2 billion years ago.

    “We can understand past environments better if we know exactly where they were,” Dr David Rothery, a geologist, told BBC News. “I don’t think as a European I care whether continents are going to converge over the North Pole or whether Britain crashes into America in the far future. Predicting into the future is of far less concern than what happened in the past.”

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