The Pacific’s days are numbered, according to a new giant computer simulation of Earth’s permanently drifting tectonic plates.
The good news? The oldest ocean on our planet still has another 300 million years to go. If the Pacific Ocean is lucky, it may celebrate its billionth birthday before it finally comes out of existence.
But researchers at Curtin University in Australia think it’s likely to swallow the ocean sooner.
In the last years of his life, the Pacific Ocean would not resemble the vast expanse of blue as it does today. Every year, the ocean shrinks a few centimeters, as it has been doing since it was a super-ocean that surrounded the last giant continent of Pangea.
This ancient ocean is home to many subduction zones. Tectonic plates collide in places and spill over each other. Colloquially known as the “Ring of Fire,” these sites in the Pacific Ocean act roughly like bathtub drains to the ocean floor.
Every year, a few centimeters of the Pacific plate slides under the Eurasian plate and the Indo-Australian plate, collapsing the distance between North America, Asia and Australia.
Not all scholars agree About what the next supercontinent will look like or how it will form, but in many simulations, the Pacific Ocean is doomed.
While some studies suggest that the Atlantic Ocean, which is expanding today, may begin to shrink in the future, thus creating a subcontinent surrounded by a supercontinent Pacific Ocean, researchers at Curtin University disagree.
rather than another continent similar to Pangea (aka Pangea Proxima) formation, They argue that the world is heading towards a The subcontinent where North America collides with Asia is called Amasya.
Poor Australia is left out of the name for this “cute couple,” but in 4D geodynamic models, the Southern Hemisphere’s continent appears to play an important role in connecting the remainder of the Pacific.
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Recent simulations by researchers in Australia are based on realistic plate and cloak parameters from the present and the past, which were then used by a supercomputer to predict the future.
“Over the past 2 billion years, Earth’s continents have collided together to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, known as the supercontinent cycle,” Says Earth scientist and lead author, Chuan Huang.
“By simulating how Earth’s tectonic plates evolved using a supercomputer, we were able to show that in less than 300 million years, the Pacific Ocean will likely close, allowing the formation of Amasia, debunking some previous scientific theories.”
unlike Some other supercontinent simulationsthis new indicates that the Pacific Ocean, not the Atlantic or the Caribbean, will be destroyed when Amasia forms.
In the current model, Amasia appears when the Pacific Ocean closes due to weakening of the upper layer of ocean crust.
“The Earth as we know it will be significantly different when Amasia forms. Sea level is expected to be lower, and the vast interior of the supercontinent will be extremely dry with rising daily temperatures.” Says Geologist Cheng Xiang Li.
But this is only the latest study in a long line of supercontinent simulations, all of which have attempted to predict what our planet will look like in the future.
Another model is unlikely to end the controversy, but it’s not the only model predicting the demise of the Pacific.
In a scenario where he called a super continent Novobanga The Americas collide with Antarctica before it collides with Eurasia and Africa. This cuts across the Pacific in a different way but with similar results.
In another supercontinent scenario, called Eurekaboth the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are forever close, and a new ocean basin is emerging in their place.
Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: the Earth and its oceans will never be the same again.
The study was published in National Science Review.