The Best of 2013 // #87: When Worlds Collide

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continents from space

Geologists that monitor underwater topography and seismic activity has come to the conclusion that the tectonic forces that split and moved around the original supercontinent of Pangea appear to be going into reverse, setting up our planet for a collision of continents.

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While building an updated tectonic map of the area off the coast of Portugal, João Duarte, Monash University geologist noticed a fracture in the normally intact plate underlying the Atlantic ocean.  The fracture, according to Duarte, is possible evidence of an “embryonic subduction zone”, a zone where a new tectonic edge is formed and then forced under the rest of the plate into Earth’s mantle.  It’s this process that pulls the continents closer together.

The findings were published in the June edition of Geology, and they attempt an explanation for mid plate subduction zones – something that has eluded plate tectonic theorists.  Duarte suggests that oceanic closing may already be underway here.

The millennium-long process of tectonic plate spreading and then merging into one supercontinent has only happened three times in the whole of Earth’s history, meaning we have another 220 million years before North America and Europe meet head-on, so don’t worry about loosing those air miles points just yet.

There’s more stories from 2013.  Check out the Best of 2013 series here

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