Atlantic Closing


One of the first articles I wrote, I found this on my old laptop and thought it could make for an interesting post.

50 years after tectonic motion was first proven by Vine and Matthews, the most recent theory circling the geological world is that the Atlantic Ocean may be on the close. This comes from the ever decreasing volcanism along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and an embryotic subduction zone which appears to be forming off the coast of Portugal. But what does this mean for us here in the UK? Is the coast of Cornwall about to become neighbors with the state of Maine? Will Ireland find a new home alongside Newfoundland?

Geologically speaking these may be possibilities but in terms of humanity being affected by this is extremely remote. Tectonic motion at any point around the Atlantic basin is no more than 19 mm y-1, and even at faster rates such as the African Plates northern motion of 25 mm y-1, we would still not see full closure of the Atlantic for another 175Ma. Now the chances of humanity being a permanent feature on Earth by that point is not looking great; looking at the state of our planet and typical time scales of past species.

The cause for the current surge of interest in this theory stems from evidence a passive margin is interacting with the westward moving subduction zone between the Eurasian and African plates. This is causing what is termed and ‘embryotic subduction zone’ but this is not a new feature, even believed to have caused the infamous 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

A similar scenario occurring the other side along the Scotia and Lesser Antilles arcs, this coupled with the African plate’s collision course with Mediterranean, and Australia’s ever speeding towards Asia, we find ourselves in the throes of the Wilson Cycle with it believed that within the next few hundred million years Earth will have yet another supercontinent. This belief being so great in certain circles, some geologist have already named it Pangea Ultima.  


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