In the next 50 to 200 million years, all of Earth’s continents will be once again pushed together into a single landmass around the North Pole, a supercontinent called Amasia. This conclusion comes from a computer model that has been emulating the slow movements of the continents over the next millions of years.
The last supercontinent was formed 300 million years ago, Pangea, and the land masses were grouped together around the equator. After having examined the geology of the mountain ranges around the world, geologists had previously thought that the next supercontinent would be in the same place as Pangea, it would close up the Atlantic Ocean, or it would be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
However, Ross Mitchell, a geologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and his colleagues have other ideas. They analyzed the magnetism of ancient rocks to work out their locations on the globe in the past, and measured how the mantle moves the continents that float on its surface. They discovered that instead of staying near the equator, the next supercontinent would form over the Arctic.
Mitchell et al. think that this is part of a pattern since Pangea formed at about 90 degrees to the previous supercontinent Rodinia, and Rodinia at about 90 degrees of Nuna, which existed 2 billion years ago. Amasia would find itself 90 degrees from where Pangea was positioned on the globe.
This new model is called orthoversion, contrary to introversion, where a supercontinent forms exactly where Pangea was, or extroversion, where it moves to the other side of the world but staying on the equator.
Orthoversion clears up a conundrum that has been on geologists’ minds for decades since it models where the next supercontinent will be placed. The other possible future supercontinents were Pangea Ultima and Novopangea.