Our planet is constantly changing, but to imagine what the Earth will look like after 50, 100, and 200 million years is not that easy. The fact is, our rocky planet is a mosaic of tectonic plates that put pressure on each other and create processes that lead to oceans and mountains. Despite the fact that we do not notice this, the plates are constantly moving. According to generally accepted theory, the gradual movement of plates in the past has shared the supercontinent Pangea and continues to this day. Today, considering the Earth's past and modern technology, we can predict the future movements of the continents. But what changes are happening right now?
Continental shift and seismic tomography
The most popular theory today is that in the future, a supercontinent like Pangea will reappear on Earth. According to the theory of plate tectonics, the outer shell of the earth is divided into several plates, which glide slowly along the mantle. Over time, the surface of the earth changes due to the merging or separation of continents. Chris Skotese, a professor at Northwestern University's Department of Earth Sciences, is studying how plate tectonics and climate change affect the Earth's future appearance. On the basis of the investigations, Skotese created several animated maps showing how our house will change in 250 million years:
In addition, one of the latest methods to study the velocity in the deep crust and mantle – seismic tomography – is helping geologists predict future changes. Using this technique, the researchers concluded that the Earth's continents move along the length and breadth of the surface at a rate of several centimeters per year. Experts believe that this will continue and lead to changes in position and collisions of the plates. This process is called continental drift. The future holds many secrets and amazing discoveries.
To not miss any of them, subscribe to our news channel in Telegram
The current direction of the tectonic plates and their speed enable geologists to predict how the position of the continents will change. Skoteze's theory, called Pangea Ultimate, predicts that the Atlantic will shrink, America will move closer to Europe, and the Mediterranean will disappear as Africa merges with Europe. He also expected that Australia and Southeast Asia would unite.
Scientists have proposed various scenarios for how this process will continue in the future. The union of continents in areas on the border between the two plates will create large mountain ranges similar to the Himalayas. Other existing ranges will also grow. Greenland and the Antarctic will move away from the Poles, causing global sea-level rise and completely changing the coast as we know it. Most of these events are simple predictions, and experts agree that it's risky to make such long-term predictions.