Study: Americas + Europe + Asia Will Form Amasia, a Supercontinent in the Arctic

By Sarah Zhang | February 9, 2012 4:08 pm

Geological analysis suggest the current-day continents we know and love will drift together, forming a new supercontinent like ones that existed many millions of years ago. What’s not certain is where that supercontinent will be. The authors of a new Nature study suggest that the next supercontinent, dubbed Amasia, will join together up in the Arctic. Antarctica, though, would stay by its lonesome in the south.

The Yale scientists analyzed the formation of two earlier supercontinents, Rodinia and Pangaea, and found that the continents had rotated 90 degrees between one supercontinent and the next one. They calculated these rotations based on the alignment of magnetic material in ancient rocks. Before lava solidifies into rock, the tiny shards of magnetic material point to align with the Earth’s North Pole at the time—a magnetic snapshot of the past that can tell us how continents have since rotated. Rotate 90 degrees away from the last supercontinent, Pangaea, and that puts Amasia near the North Pole. However, this contradicts previous models proposing that Amasia will be either exactly where Pangaea was or directly 180 degrees across from it.

Of course, none of us will be around to verify any of these hypotheses: According to the new model, Amasia is not due to emerge for another 100 million years.

[via CS Monitor]

Image and video courtesy of Ross Mitchell, Nature

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment
  • Chris

    OK about the video, is that showing where the continents are going or where they’ve been?

    When it starts the North America is moving toward Europe , South America is moving towards Africa, somebody forgot about Mexico! and India is leaving Asia for Africa. That’s going backwards in time. At the halfway point as best I can tell is just the reverse of the first part, like it actually happened.

    So am I missing something, and if not, where is the simulation how the Earth will look in the future?

  • Aiden

    Hmm, you’re right, no Mexico. I’m pretty sure this is a formation of the continents we know though. I imagine Mexico happened because North America stretched out towards the South. Or something, I don’t know, I’m not a geologist. x’D

  • Luis

    You are not missing anything — you described the video perfectly: it shows the past, not the future. I hope the writers post the right video of the future Amasia supercontinent!

  • IW

    Amasia? Seriously? Why not Asierica or Eurasiam? When will Americans even start to get a glimmer of a notion that the USA is not the first nation in the world, it’s not the only nation in the world, it’s not the most populous, and its importance does not surpass that of all other nations? You know, if we dispensed with this parochiality and jingoism, them thar furriners might even start to like us.

  • Глеб

    @IW – you’re seeing politics where there is none. The term ‘America’, especially in the context of scientific theories, does not refer exclusively to the United States. If you look at the projected model, the American land masses, North America (including the 3 continental countries plus the 13 West Indian Island nations), Central America (7 countries), and South America, (13 countries) join together in one big ‘American’ continent. Then that mass joins with the other continents to create what the scientists have termed Amasia, meaning the Americas + Asia. How did the U.S.A. get into your version of this this theory?

    Most likely they chose this name because they thought it sounded better than other options (Aiserica sounds silly because of ‘erica’, sounds like someone’s name). The name also includes a bit of fun wordplay (Amaze-ya, get it?), and, at least in my experience, scientists are generally gifted with a fairly decent sense of humor. I live in Russia, but Amasia sounds like the perfect name for the new continent to me.

    Now if we could just make sure our governments don’t end up going to war over Arctic resources…

  • Tony Mach

    I think a landmass at the north-pole is a very bad idea from the climate perspective (see south-pole for reference – while ice melts in the arctic, it increases in the antarctic). We should ban this.

  • Sarah Zhang

    The video starts in the present and goes backward 500 million years and then forwards to the present — it’s meant to show the 90 degree rotation between one supercontinent and the next.

  • Pins

    @4

    I knew someone would bring up this non issue.

  • amphiox

    Tony Mach, let’s concern ourselves with the climate challenges that confront us NOW rather than worry about something that will not happen for 100 million years.

    Because otherwise we won’t be around then to have to worry about it.

    (We probably won’t be around by then regardless. It’ll be something else’s problem.)

  • Staten-John

    Looks like first posting disappeared.

    If the configuration and location of Amasia as described comes to pass then the gigantism of life forms that occurred in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras will happen again. A new theory explains this (see http://www.dinoextinct.com and click on ‘The Gravity Theory of Mass Extinction’).

    Briefly, when the center of mass of the Earth’s continental tectonic plates becomes asymmetrical with respect to the equator, the Earth’s core elements (inner, outer cores and densest part of lower mantle) must move away from their Earth-centric position based on the Conservation of Angular Momentum Law. When that happens, the distance from a point on the Earth’s surface and the new center of mass of the Earth changes, hence a change in surface gravitation.

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