America and Eurasia 'to meet at north pole'
By NEIL BOWDLER - BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Added: Thu, 09 Feb 2012 12:18:14 UTC
America and Eurasia will crash into each other over the North Pole in 50-200 million years time, according to scientists at Yale University.
They predict Africa and Australia will join the new "supercontinent" too, which will mark the next coming together of the Earth's land masses.
The continents are last thought to have come together 300 million years ago into a supercontinent called Pangaea.
Details are published in the journal Nature.
An impression of the "supercontinent of Pangaea" some 300 million years ago
The land masses of the Earth are constantly moving as the Earth's tectonic activity occurs. This generates areas such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where Iceland has formed, and areas such as that off the coast of Japan, where one plate rides over another.
Geologists believe that, over billions of years, these shifting plates have driven the continents together periodically, creating the hypothesised supercontinents of Nuna 1.8 billion years ago, Rodinia a billion years ago, and then Pangaea 300 million years ago.
The next supercontinent has already been given the working title of Amasia, as it is expected to involve the convergence of the Americas and Asia.
What the researchers have set out to do is predict when and where it will form by looking back at where its predecessors emerged.
"We're all pretty familiar with the concept of Pangaea, but there hasn't been much convincing data to suggest how the supercontinents take shape," Ross Mitchell of Yale University told BBC News.
"In our model, we actually have North America and South America joining by closing the Caribbean Sea and the Arctic Sea closing and connecting the Americas and Asia."
Dave Mosher - National Geographic Comments
The sun is the roundest natural object ever precisely measured, astronomers say.
Geraint Jones - The Guardian Comments
Scientists who encoded the book say it could soon be cheaper to store information in DNA than in conventional digital devices
Ed Yong - Nature News Comments
Under the supervision of guards and graduate students, a small group of prisoners is breeding the beautiful orange-and-white insects in a greenhouse outside the prison. They have even carried out research to show what plants the butterfly prefers to lay its eggs on.
- - Scientific American Comments
Teachers, scientists and policymakers have drafted ambitious new education standards. All 50 states should adopt them
John Roach - NBC News Comments
An artificial “brain” built by a 17-year-old whiz kid from Florida is able to accurately assess tissue samples for signs of breast cancer, providing more confidence to a minimally invasive procedure.