The history of our world is fascinating and, forever changing. What will it look like 50 million from now?
Our World 299 Million Years Ago
It was 300 million years ago that the Earth had not seven continents but only ONE. A massive supercontinent called PANGEA and it was surrounded by a single ocean called Panthalassa. Then during the Triassic Period, as a result of the shifting of the continents, a rift began to open up and an ocean that would eventually separate the landmass. Pangea wasn't the first supercontinent and it won't be the last. In fact, there have been several of these occurrences.
Some 200 million years ago, PANGEA began breaking up. Gondwana consisted of Africa, South America, Antarctica, India, and Australia. Gondwana had split from Laurasia, which consisted of North America. The break up of Pangea led to the formation of the Atlantic Ocean which is getting wider today while the Pacific Ocean is closing and getting narrower.
Today, Australia is inching toward Asia, and East Africa is slowly peeling off from its continent. Scientists are studying geological records and using radioactive dating along with seismic surveys to attempt to glimpse into the future of how the Earth may look in the future.
It was a German meteorologist, Alfred Wegener who first presented the theory of continental shifting. He describes it in detail in his book, The Origin of Continents and Oceans. He concurred with German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt that fossils and certain plants appeared on both continents of South America and Africa and they had been connected together. It was unfortunate that Wegener died (in 1930) before his theories were vindicated. He died in Greenland still searching for further proof of his theories.
Although initially rebuked by scientists decades later he was widely accepted and honored with his theories called the Wegeland Cycle.
Alfred Wegener, Father of Plate Tectonics
Born 1880 in Berlin, Germany, Alfred had his Ph.D. bt 1905 at the age of 24. He published his first book, Thermodynamics of the Atmosphere. Shortly after that, Alfred studied a map and had an inkling of how puzzle pieces fit together. He realized that South America fits right into Africa. He began studying other aspects of a theory swirling in his mind. He learned that fossils of the same species were found in Brazil and West Africa. Alfred began giving lectures on his theories about a supercontinent called Pangea. He eluded to plate tectonics and continental drifting. Plate tectonics is basically a solid continent floating on a fluid mantle, constantly shifting yet it wasn't until the 1960s when this theory was recognized. Today, the theory is taught to anyone studying the subject.
Alfred was humiliated and ridiculed among scientists making it difficult for him to find decent employment. He so strongly believed in his theories he was sent to Greenland for research. On his 4th Greenland expedition, Alfred, in bad weather with temperatures -60 degrees below, he froze to death.
Scientists Propose Four Theories of Future Earth
Scientists have proposed four possible theories for the next supercontinent of the Earth. They are:
- Novopangea, Americas collide with Antarctica then into Africa-Eurasia.
- Ultima, America reframe Pangea, Europe, and Africa brought together, and the super Pacific Ocean is formed.
- Aurica, Pan-Asian rift cuts through Asia from west of India to the artic.
- Amasia, Africa, and Australia head north and gather at the North Pole.
Scientists believe the most likely scenario is the Novopangea. But nothing is written in stone, and questions might be asked about the climate will be, what ocean circulations will be like, and how life will evolve or adapt. Since none of us will be around for the next Pangea, we will never know how and when it happens.
The next Pangea will not happen tomorrow or even in the next 100 years but millions of years from now. Scientists believe we are half way to the next Pangea.
fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on November 18, 2020:
Thanks for your visit. I am glad you enjoyed it.
Rosina S Khan on November 18, 2020:
An interesting article showing us how the world was millions of years ago and how it is going to be millions of years later. I enjoyed reading it, Fran. Thanks for sharing.