Today there are seven continents in the world, but this number may change in the future. Geophysicist Ross Mitchell recently released his new book. Titled ‘The Next Supercontinent’, the book not only talks about the past but also about the future. It describes what the Earth would look like when all the continents were merged into one large land mass. Mitchell also sheds light on the history of continents joining together to form ‘supercontinents’ in the past.
Mitchell explained that between 300 and 200 million years ago, Pangea was the supercontinent, a green world full of dinosaurs centered around present-day Africa. Going further back than this, a billion years ago we encounter Rodinia, a barren landmass that includes present-day North America and Greenland. Nearby, two billion years ago, Columbia, the first supercontinent centered on Siberia, was what some scientists believe.
How do continents move?
Understanding the movements of the continents requires close examination. Scientists collect samples through fieldwork and determine the age of rocks. The formation and breakup of supercontinents is linked to a ‘solid but flexible’ mantle. The mantle is the heat-storing layer between the Earth’s crust and core. The book says that when the mantle heats up, the continents move. Continents move toward places in the mantle that are relatively colder than other parts.
Prediction of the next supercontinent
In this way the continents collide with each other, resulting in a new supercontinent. Using this knowledge of history and understanding of how the mantle works, Mitchell predicts ‘Amazia’ as the next supercontinent. Mitchell claims that it is formed by the disappearance of the Arctic Ocean. According to his prediction, Amasia would be formed from the fusion of North America and Asia.