Over the next 300 million years, all of Earth's continents will form a new supercontinent called Amasia, and the Pacific Ocean will cease to exist.
That is according to a new study by researchers at Curtin University, published last week in National Science Review, that plots our planet's medium-term geological future.
"Over the past nearly two billion years, Earth's continents have clung together to form a supercontinent every 600 million years, also known as the supercontinent cycle," Chuan Hung (Lead author of this study) said in a press release. "This means that the present-day continents are going to come together again in a couple hundred million years' time."
To establish a time frame, the researchers used 4D geodynamic modeling of Earth's tectonic plates to determine why past supercontinents formed in completely different ways.
Of those methods, introgression is one of the two main models, and occurs when continents are close to an inner ocean that formed when the last continent broke up.
At the opposing end is the outflow, in which the continents are closing in on the outer, former superocean. If that rocky history can be cleared up, researchers can better predict the next supercontinental assembly.
What the researchers found is that the strength of the oceanic lithosphere determines what type of conjunction occurs, and from there it was concluded that the extravasation would be responsible for the next supercontinent.
In this case, the former ocean is the Pacific, formerly the much larger Panthalassa superocean that encircled the previous continent, Pangea.
"The resulting new supercontinent has already been named Amasia because some believe the Pacific Ocean will be closed (unlike the Atlantic and Indian oceans) when the Americas collide with Asia," said Huang. May be, Australia will also play a role in this important Earth event, first colliding with Asia and then connecting the Americas and Asia after the Pacific Ocean closes."
If they hold, these are remarkable findings that provide a glimpse into the planet's future. But it is still one of several hypotheses regarding continent shifting, including the Pangea Proxima model, which suggests that the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean above would close instead.