From Curtin University (AU) Via Mirage News: “Pacific Ocean set to make way for world’s next supercontinent”

From Curtin University (AU)

Via

Mirage News

9.30.22

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

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A possible Amasia configuration 280 Myr into the future.

Published in National Science Review [below], the research team used a supercomputer to simulate how a supercontinent forms and found that because the Earth has been cooling for billions of years, the thickness and strength of the plates under the oceans reduce with time, making it difficult for the next supercontinent to assemble by closing the “young” oceans, such as the Atlantic or Indian oceans.

Lead author Dr Chuan Huang, from Curtin’s Earth Dynamics Research Group and the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the new findings were significant and provided insights into what would happen to Earth in the next 200 million years.

“Over the past two billion years Earth’s continents have collided together to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, known as the supercontinent cycle. This means that the current continents are due to come together again in a couple of hundred of million years’ time,” Dr Huang said.

“The resulting new supercontinent has already been named Amasia because some believe that 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 important Earth event, first colliding with Asia and then connecting America and Asia once the Pacific Ocean closes.

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

The Pacific Ocean is what is left of the Panthalassa super ocean that started to form 700 million years ago when the previous supercontinent started to break apart. It is the oldest ocean we have on Earth, and it started shrinking from its maximum size since the dinosaur time. It is currently shrinking in size by a few centimetres per year and its current dimension of about 10 thousand kilometres is predicted to take two to three hundred million years to close.

Co-author John Curtin Distinguished Professor Zheng-Xiang Li, also from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said that having the whole world dominated by a single continental mass would dramatically alter Earth’s ecosystem and environment.

“Earth as we know it will be drastically different when Amasia forms. The sea level is expected to be lower, and the vast interior of the supercontinent will be very arid with high daily temperature ranges,” Professor Li said.

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

The research was co-authored by researchers from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Peking University in China.

Science paper:
National Science Review

See the full article here.

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Curtin University (AU) is an Australian public research university based in Bentley and Perth, Western Australia. The university is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, and is the largest university in Western Australia, with over 58,000 students (as of 2016).

Curtin would like to pay respect to the indigenous members of our community by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which the Perth campus is located, the Wadjuk people of the Nyungar Nation; and on our Kalgoorlie campus, the Wongutha people of the North-Eastern Goldfields.

Curtin was conferred university status after legislation was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in 1986. Since then, the university has been expanding its presence and has campuses in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius. It has ties with 90 exchange universities in 20 countries. The University comprises five main faculties with over 95 specialists centres. The University formerly had a Sydney campus between 2005 & 2016. On 17 September 2015, Curtin University Council made a decision to close its Sydney campus by early 2017.

Curtin University is a member of Australian Technology Network (ATN), and is active in research in a range of academic and practical fields, including Resources and Energy (e.g., petroleum gas), Information and Communication, Health, Ageing and Well-being (Public Health), Communities and Changing Environments, Growth and Prosperity and Creative Writing.

It is the only Western Australian university to produce a PhD recipient of the AINSE gold medal, which is the highest recognition for PhD-level research excellence in Australia and New Zealand.

Curtin has become active in research and partnerships overseas, particularly in mainland China. It is involved in a number of business, management, and research projects, particularly in supercomputing, where the university participates in a tri-continental array with nodes in Perth, Beijing, and Edinburgh. Western Australia has become an important exporter of minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Woodside-funded hydrocarbon research facility during his visit to Australia in 2005.