The Pacific Ocean is set to make way for the world's next supercontinent

The Pacific Ocean is set to make way for the world’s next supercontinent

The Pacific Ocean is set to make way for the world's next supercontinent

A possible Amasia configuration 280 Myr in the future. Credit: Curtin University

New research led by Curtin University has revealed that the world’s next supercontinent, Amasia, will most likely form when the Pacific Ocean closes in 200 to 300 million years.

Posted in National Science Reviewthe research team used a supercomputer to simulate the formation of a supercontinent and discovered that, as the Earth has been cooling for billions of years, the thickness and resistance of the plates under the oceans are decreasing over time, making it difficult to assemble the next supercontinent. by closing the “young” oceans, such as the Atlantic Ocean or the Indian Ocean.

Lead author Dr Chuan Huang, from Curtin’s Earth Dynamics Research Group and School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the new findings were important and gave insight into what that would happen to Earth over the next 200 million years.

“Over the past 2 billion years, the continents of Earth have collided to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, known as the supercontinent cycle. This means that the current continents must come together again in a few hundred million years,” Dr Huang said.

“The resulting new supercontinent has already been named Amasia because some believe the Pacific Ocean will close (as opposed to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans) when America collides with Asia. Australia is also expected to play a role in this significant Earth event, first colliding with Asia, then connecting America and Asia once the Pacific Ocean closes.

“By simulating the expected evolution of the Earth’s tectonic plates using a supercomputer, we were able to show that in less than 300 million years, it is probably the Pacific Ocean that will close, allowing the formation of Amasia, debunking some previous scientific theories.”

The Pacific Ocean is what remains of the super Panthalassa Ocean which began to form 700 million years ago when the previous supercontinent began to break up. It’s the oldest ocean we have on Earth, and it’s started to shrink from its maximum size since the days of the dinosaurs. Its size is currently shrinking by a few centimeters per year and its current size of about 10,000 kilometers is expected to take 200 to 300 million years to close.

Co-author John Curtin, Distinguished Professor Zheng-Xiang Li, also of the Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said that the domination of the entire world by a single landmass would dramatically alter the ecosystem and the environment of the Earth.

“Earth as we know it will look dramatically different when Amasia forms. Sea levels are expected to be lower and the vast interior of the supercontinent will be very arid with high daily temperature ranges,” the professor said. Li.

“Currently, the Earth consists of seven continents with very different ecosystems and human cultures, so it would be fascinating to think about what the world might look like in 200 to 300 million years.”

Study reveals billion-year superocean cycles in Earth’s history

More information:
Chuan Huang et al, Will Earth’s Next Supercontinent Assemble Through the Closing of the Pacific Ocean?, National Science Review (2022). DOI: 10.1093/nsr/nwac205

Provided by Curtin University

Quote: Pacific Ocean set to make way for next world supercontinent (September 30, 2022) Retrieved October 1, 2022 from

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