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Meet 'Amasia,' the Next Supercontinent
Science ^ | 2/8/12 | Sid Perkins

Posted on 02/09/2012 9:45:24 AM PST by LibWhacker


No boats required. In the distant future, most if not all of today's continents (brown fragments, depicted with current-day outlines) will assemble into a single landmass called Amasia (shown approximately 100 million years from now).

Over the next few hundred million years, the Arctic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea will disappear, and Asia will crash into the Americas forming a supercontinent that will stretch across much of the Northern Hemisphere. That's the conclusion of a new analysis of the movements of these giant landmasses.

Unlike in today's world, where a variety of tectonic plates move across Earth's surface carrying the bits of crust that we recognize as continents, ancient Earth was home to supercontinents, which combined most if not all major landmasses into one. Previous studies suggest that supercontinents last about 100 million years or so before they break apart, setting the pieces adrift to start another cycle.

The geological record reveals that in the past 2 billion years or so, there have been three supercontinents, says Ross Mitchell, a geophysicist at Yale University. The oldest known supercontinent, Nuna, came together about 1.8 billion years ago. The next, Rodinia, existed about 1 billion years ago, and the most recent, Pangaea, came together about 300 million years ago. In the lengthy intervals between supercontinents, continent-sized-and-smaller landmasses drifted individually via plate tectonics, as they do today.

Scientists can track the comings and goings of those landmasses by analyzing the iron-bearing magnetic minerals in various types of rock deposits. That's because the iron atoms, and sometimes even tiny magnetized bits of iron-bearing rock, line up with Earth's magnetic field when they're free to rotate, as they are when the material that contains them is molten. Once the rocks have solidified—and if they aren't heated above the temperature at which their magnetic information is wiped clean—careful analyses can reveal where on Earth those rocks were when they first cooled, even if the rocks are hundreds of millions of years old. In particular, the rocks retain a record of their paleolatitude, or how far they were from Earth's magnetic pole.

Although supercontinents before Nuna may have existed, rocks more than 2 billion years old that still preserve evidence of ancient magnetic fields are scarce, Mitchell says. And although scientists have generally agreed that Nuna, Rodinia, and Pangaea existed, exactly where on Earth each came together has been a matter of strong debate. Some geophysical models have suggested that drifting landmasses have come together in the same spot on Earth's surface each cycle. Other teams have proposed that the wandering pieces reassembled on the opposite side of the planet, 180° away from where the previous supercontinent broke apart.

Now, Mitchell and his colleagues suggest an intermediate answer—that each supercontinent has come together about 90° away from its predecessor. The team's analyses, reported online today in Nature, use techniques that determine the paleolatitude of ancient landmasses but also, for the first time, estimate their paleolongitude by taking into account how the locations of Earth's magnetic poles changed through time. Together, these data suggest that the geographic center of Rodinia was located about 88° away from the center of Nuna, and the center of Pangaea—which was located near present-day Africa—sat about 87° from Rodinia's center.

These angles are no accident, the researchers suggest: The drifting pieces of crust eventually come together along the former edge of the fractured supercontinent—an area approximately 90° away from the former supercontinent's center. That's where relatively dense ocean crust was being shoved beneath the lighter continental crust, causing a downward flow in the underlying mantle that in turn attracted the drifting bits like water running down a drain.

According to this model, the next supercontinent—a sprawling landmass dubbed Amasia, which in its earliest stages will merge Asia with the Americas—will stretch across much of the Northern Hemisphere, the researchers suggest. Over the next few hundred million years, Mitchell says, the motions of tectonic plates will cause the Arctic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to disappear, the western edge of South America to crowd up against the eastern seaboard, and Australia to slam into southeastern Asia. It's unclear whether Antarctica will join the party or be stranded at the South Pole.

"This is a beautiful piece of work," says Joseph Kirschvink, a geophysicist at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Most of the high-quality paleomagnetic data available today has been collected in the past 20 years or so, he notes. "And the more data we have, the more we can recognize the patterns of where chunks of Earth's crust must have been."

The team's ideas about how and where supercontinents form are "reasonable but far from proven," says Bernhard Steinberger, a geodynamicist at the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. Although Mitchell and his colleagues have identified statistical trends in their paleomagnetic analyses, he notes, "the data still just look like clouds of points to me."

The team's results "are very impressive," says Brendan Murphy, a geologist at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Canada. Because the breakup and assembly of supercontinents is arguably one of the most important cycles in Earth's biological and geological evolution, the findings will undoubtedly stimulate further research and analyses, he notes. "And even if the new model is wrong," he adds, "we'll learn a lot by testing it."


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: amasia; arctic; catastrophism; godsgravesglyphs; nuna; pangaea; rodinia; supercontinent

1 posted on 02/09/2012 9:45:30 AM PST by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
"Nuna, ... Rodinia, ... Pangaea ..."

It always amazes me how they discovered the names of those things.

2 posted on 02/09/2012 9:51:54 AM PST by eCSMaster (Excommunicate evildoers)
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To: LibWhacker

We have plenty of time to come up with a new name. “Amasia” sucks.


3 posted on 02/09/2012 9:52:31 AM PST by youngidiot (Hear Hear!)
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To: LibWhacker

OMG we need to do something about this right now. Call AlGore and DiCaprio. We need to have a summit so we can convince that Asia’s booming birthrate is causing this continental shift. Call Michael Mann and get a samurai sword graph up as quickly as we can on saveourcontinents.com. There is not one single second to waste! With every newborn cry we hear the continents squeeze just a little bit more. We need to solve this by March of 2012 or we are doomed. Doomed do you hear me?


4 posted on 02/09/2012 9:54:05 AM PST by Cyman
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To: SunkenCiv

PING


5 posted on 02/09/2012 9:59:11 AM PST by Thunder90 (Fighting for truth and the American way... http://citizensfortruthandtheamericanway.blogspot.com/)
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To: youngidiot
We have plenty of time to come up with a new name. “Amasia” sucks.

I would pronounce it something like Amazing.
6 posted on 02/09/2012 10:02:32 AM PST by GonzoGOP (There are millions of paranoid people in the world and they are all out to get me.)
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To: eCSMaster

Old maps, realy old maps.


7 posted on 02/09/2012 10:07:01 AM PST by dangerdoc (see post #6)
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To: LibWhacker
Asia will crash into the Americas


8 posted on 02/09/2012 10:08:14 AM PST by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: LibWhacker

“You’re gonna need a bigger fence...”


9 posted on 02/09/2012 10:10:23 AM PST by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: eCSMaster

Weren’t those the ships Columbus came over here on?


10 posted on 02/09/2012 10:10:29 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: LibWhacker

Asia is going to crash into North America? We’d better start working on that airbag right now.


11 posted on 02/09/2012 10:13:05 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: blueunicorn6

What about those crabs in the Bering sea? Somebody save the crabs!!!!.....and then bring them over with melted butter.


12 posted on 02/09/2012 10:16:07 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: youngidiot
We have plenty of time to come up with a new name. “Amasia” sucks.

New Laurasia

All that is happening is Laurasia breaking apart at the North Europe/East coast America interface, and Laurentia rolling around the North Pole to reconnect at a Siberia/NorthWest Territories interface.

Old Laurasia


13 posted on 02/09/2012 10:16:23 AM PST by Oztrich Boy
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To: LibWhacker

Looks like the game of “Risk” will have to be completely overhauled.


14 posted on 02/09/2012 10:21:53 AM PST by Poison Pill (Obama is the hopium of the masses)
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To: LibWhacker

It’s amazing how the earth recycles itself, reshaping itself slowly over long stretches of time.. and think of all the new places to cruise to when this latest one shakes out..


15 posted on 02/09/2012 10:23:54 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed .. Monthly Donor Onboard .. Obama: Epic Fail or Bust!!!)
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To: LibWhacker

India just breaks off and becomes an island? Where’s that russian airplane guy from India? You’ll have the world’s biggest aircraft carrier! You can have 300 million people sit on the edge and kick their feet in the water to propel it.
“Damnit! The shark got Chaitan! Maybe we can replace him with an Evinrude.”


16 posted on 02/09/2012 10:24:50 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: LibWhacker
You can't tell me the weather for tomorrow but you can tell me plate tectonics over millions of years... without a problem. Science is now dead... what we have is voodoo, chickens bones and tea leaves.

LLS

17 posted on 02/09/2012 10:26:11 AM PST by LibLieSlayer (Hey repubic elite scumbags... jam mitt up your collective arses!)
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To: LibWhacker

How ‘exact’ can this science of determining the location by ‘ancient’ magnetic residuals in rock be when we know that the magnetic poles move, all the time, unpredictably, and may have even ‘flipped’, maybe more than once or twice, or a hundred times during it’s existence in the solar system?

It seems, from text in the article, that scientists believe that all continents are floating islands, free to wander the globe. That all mountain ranges are the product of crashes between ‘continents’ as if they were bumper cars at Disneyland.

Now... if they can explain how the continents or islands, which sit on tectonic plates, can move when the tectonic plates themselves all butt up to one another, and interlock better than the pieces of a puzzle, then I am all ears.

The fact that they get contradictions and wildly different opinions from their own ‘tests’, tells me that they must not have the right ‘methodology’, or that I am very unclear about their ‘concept’.

A concept of a ‘growing’ Earth would make more sense as an explanation of tectonic plate ‘movement’. The existence or non-existence of land masses is mostly due to up and down movement in the crust and the subsequent redistribution of the ‘water’.


18 posted on 02/09/2012 10:27:13 AM PST by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: LibWhacker
100 million years from now?

To paraphrase Robert DeNiro, from the movie "Meet the Parents," -- "Oh, I'll look forward to that, Greg!"

19 posted on 02/09/2012 10:41:54 AM PST by Lou L (The Senate without a filibuster is just a 100-member version of the House.)
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To: LibWhacker
will assemble into a single landmass called Amasia (shown approximately 100 million years from now).

I'll be too old to care by then!

20 posted on 02/09/2012 10:44:38 AM PST by pgkdan (Rick Santorum 2012. Conservative's last, best chance!)
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To: LibWhacker
...most if not all of today's continents (brown fragments, depicted with current-day outlines) will assemble into a single landmass called Amasia...

Bush's Fault, of course

21 posted on 02/09/2012 11:06:09 AM PST by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
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To: eCSMaster
It always amazes me how they discovered the names of those things.

Well... they are on that map. How fortunate that the 'ancients' spoke English.

22 posted on 02/09/2012 11:25:20 AM PST by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: pgkdan
will assemble into a single landmass called Amasia (shown approximately 100 million years from now).

I would be willing to be the entire amount of the STIMULUS FUND that it doesn't happen.

23 posted on 02/09/2012 11:27:42 AM PST by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: UCANSEE2
Now... if they can explain how the continents or islands, which sit on tectonic plates, can move when the tectonic plates themselves all butt up to one another, and interlock better than the pieces of a puzzle, then I am all ears.

First, the solid rock crust of the Earth is roughly comparable in thickness to the skin of an apple for scale. Second, the heat generated by radioactive elements in the Earths core cause the liquid rock of the mantle to circulate like a giant lava lamp, pushing around the continents.


24 posted on 02/09/2012 11:29:43 AM PST by CtBigPat (Free Republic - The grown-ups table of the internet.)
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To: LibWhacker

America might not last past this next election yet they’re claiming the name will carry over in a million years?


25 posted on 02/09/2012 11:31:34 AM PST by bgill (Romney & Obama are both ineligible. A non-NBC GOP prez shuts down all ?s on Obama's admin)
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To: LibWhacker

“Over the next few hundred million years, the Arctic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea will disappear, and Asia will crash into the Americas forming a supercontinent that will stretch across much of the Northern Hemisphere.”

Yes, “across much of the Northern Hemisphere”, and across very little of the Southern Hemisphere, in a formation that looks like an exaggeration of the current, northern-heavy distribution of land and southern-heavy distribution of the seas.

I wonder if geologists and geophysicists have considered and weighed in on any possible geophysical impact (the “wobble” for instance) due to the exaggerated distribution of land and seas between the two hemispheres - north and south. Or, maybe my thinking there is, or could be such a concern, just reflects my ignorance on the topic.


26 posted on 02/09/2012 2:17:09 PM PST by Wuli (ui)
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To: Thunder90; gleeaikin; 75thOVI; agrace; aimhigh; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; aragorn; ...

Thanks Thunder90.


27 posted on 02/11/2012 6:35:41 AM PST by SunkenCiv (FReep this FReepathon!)
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To: LibWhacker
Over the next few hundred million years, the Arctic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea will disappear, and Asia will crash into the Americas forming a supercontinent that will stretch across much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Okay. I'll wait.

28 posted on 02/11/2012 6:36:57 AM PST by Lazamataz (Yes, I am THAT Conservative.)
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To: LibWhacker

Thank heavens we got the heads up soon enough to plan the party!


29 posted on 02/11/2012 9:03:50 AM PST by Silentgypsy (If this creature is not stopped it could make its way to Novosibirsk!)
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks LibWhacker. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


30 posted on 02/20/2012 7:02:28 AM PST by SunkenCiv (FReep this FReepathon!)
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