Thursday, June 20, 2013

Atlantic Ocean to Disappear in 200 Million Years?

Europe and North America could be joined, creating new mountain chains.

A bathymetric map of the Atlantic Ocean.  

The continents may become a single landmass—or "super continent"—and the ocean would close.

A newly discovered crack in the Earth's crust could pull North America and Europe together and cause the Atlantic Ocean to vanish in about 220 million years, scientists say.

A new map of the seafloor off the coast of Iberia—the region of Europe that includes Portugal and Spain—has revealed what could be the birth of a new subduction zone.

Subduction zones happen when tectonic plates—the large rock slabs that make up the Earth's crust—crash into one another. The edge of the heavier plate slides, or sub ducts, below the lighter plate. It then melts back into the Earth's mantle—the layer just below the crust.

The discovery of this new subduction zone, published on June 6 in the journal Geology, could signal the start of an extended cycle that fuses continents together into a single landmass—or "super continent"—and closes our oceans.

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