Make Pangaea great again

Extrapolating from current tectonic movements, the future state of the continents has been predicted. Apparently, we’ll get a new Pangaea back again in about 250 million years.

I’m thinking I may have to hang around long enough to witness that. Who’s with me?


  1. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    wow. I expected naively, the Atlantic would expand, the Pacific subducted under California to reform Pangea as Asia bumps into California. Not squish Atlantic so America hits Europe.
    gosh I know nothing, like John Snow.

  2. Friendly says

    I’m thinking I may have to hang around long enough to witness that. Who’s with me?

    I am! Ray Kurzweil assures me that I’ll be immortal soon, and he’s never, ever wrong!

  3. Colin Davey says

    The UK is gonna get COLD tho’. Also: sell those Mediterranean coastal properties.

  4. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin is trying to get in contact with Plate Regulation And Tectonic Controls (PRATS) in Atlantis, either to check on the authenticity, request a change in plans, or order more cheese — it’s not entirely clear which, she’s currently screaming at the French phone system (as one does, even when it makes a mistake and works) — but did point out there hasn’t been any price changes on the Next Oceans And Himalayas exchange (NOAH)…

  5. says

    I don’t have much hope that humans would still be extant at that time, but just think what that would do to politics!

  6. wzrd1 says

    I’m thinking I may have to hang around long enough to witness that. Who’s with me?

    I’ll pencil in a date to schedule a “Getting Together” party. But, 750 million years after that, I’ll be living on my house boat on Europa for another billion or so years.
    Then, it’s off to my summer home on Titan.
    10% or so brighter and hotter every billion years and all and I have absolutely no intention of being inner solar system bound when red giant stage begins.
    Once white dwarf stage begins, I’m moving out.

  7. brett says

    I wonder what will happen to that shrunken remnant of the Indian Ocean in the center of Neo-Pangaea. It’d be nice if it survived as a larger version of the Caspian Sea, but I suspect it will instead dry out completely like the Mediterranean Basin a couple million years ago. Being stuck between two massive continent-spanning mountain ranges is not going to do wonders for its rainfall.

    Sea levels should be interesting as well. They’d be lower in general because of the reformation of Panthalassa Ocean, but they might be considerably lower if plate tectonics is slowly sucking away the surface water into the mantle.

  8. wzrd1 says

    As I recall, if magma cools by a fair amount, water leaves the magma via exsolution and becomes available again.
    Of course, if the magma rapidly reaches the surface, it’s immediately available as steam.
    If it becomes available in the chamber and the magma’s path to the surface, the increased viscosity is somewhat countered by a blanket of steam, which lubricates the magma’s path to the surface, where it’s still released as steam.

    Heh, back when I was in school, magma was considered dry, no water content possible. Then, some enterprising students measured lava water content and a professor made his own magma from rocks and added water into the mixture (which the students dutifully measuring).
    It’s amazing what one can find, when one actually bothers to look, rather than assume. :)

  9. Larry says

    There’s a line in one of John McPhee’s books on geology which has always resonated with me. A geologist he was with was asked what is the most significant fact regarding plate tectonics. The geologist said something to the effect that the top of Mount Everest is composed of marine limestone. Little movies like this demonstrate how that comes to be.

  10. Ice Swimmer says

    So, the Iberian peninsula, Morocco, West Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal and the Gambia are going to be arctic or subarctic.

  11. janiceclanfield says

    “I’m thinking I may have to hang around long enough to witness that. Who’s with me?”

    No can do. That’s recycling day. Gotta be home.

  12. Callinectes says

    I’m disappointed that the Atlantic doesn’t get to be Panthalassa 2. The Pacific has already had a go!

  13. Artor says

    I’m curious why their model has continents reversing course and subduction zones suddenly turning into expansion rifts?

  14. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Interesting how (the major part of) Antarctica is looking a bit like “Australia 2.0” before everything converges.

  15. kesci says

    Oh great, this will bring in a huge influx of invasive species. Not only that, Donald Trump’s decendents will have to increase the length of his wall.

  16. whheydt says

    One used (probably still…haven’t checked in years) to be able to get bumper stickers at SF cons that said:

    Reunite Gondwanaland

    I need to take another look at the animation to see if they account for motion in the East Africa Rift Valley and San Andreas Fault system (do they run the Baja California peninsula down the Aleutian Trench?).

  17. redwood says

    But, but, but with all the land on one side of the earth, it’ll be lopsided and go all wibbly-wobbly!

  18. wzrd1 says

    One used (probably still…haven’t checked in years) to be able to get bumper stickers at SF cons that said:
    Reunite Gondwanaland

    Look, the last time I got a politically motivated item, it was a tee shirt that said, “Free Gondwana!”. Honestly, look how far that they took it.
    I think getting involved again might cause planetary dissolution, so I’ll sit this one out. ;)

  19. unclefrogy says

    Deep time really sealed the fate of faith, It is all well and good that math and instruments you measure the time of the stars but they are just lights in the sky which we can not touch. What we have learned is only a story that fits with what we see (it is said) and can be seen as such.
    We can hold in our hands the fossils from a long gone sea taken from rocks far from any ocean. We have filmed the geothermal vents on the mid ocean ridges and measured the movement of the continents and seen for ourselves the truth of deep time that is all around us. Making the stories from the priests quaint echos of the magical thinking of little children.
    uncle frogy

  20. wzrd1 says

    @uncle frogy, we’ve also held virgin, new rock, fresh from the fiery bosom of the earth – well, held it in a shovel until it cooled.
    With that, proved volcanism is indeed a major part of geology and the source of igneous rock.

    As for touching stars, personally, I say that it’s just as well. I really have to draw the line at trying to touch plasma in a strong magnetic and gravitational field.

  21. says

    The weather on a Pangea world would be really weird as well, one big ocean full of storms, one nearly infinite coastline, and a central plateau that is mostly desert. Tough place to live.

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    Wait – all of Florida remains above sea level until we (a spit of sand & seashells) penetrate Angola?

  23. epawtows says

    The Pangaean Reunification Front- the worlds most pointless terrorist organization.

  24. wzrd1 says

    @epawtows #28, wasn’t that the incompetent group that set loose a bunch of velociraptors in the tyrannosaur preschool?
    The ‘raptor’s terror was short lived, however the students then had to go on a minor weight loss program.

  25. dick says

    Caine #8, I don’t think we’ll have to wait that long for “interesting” (in the Chinese sense*) politics. The climate & water wars probably aren’t far off.

    * There’s a Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

  26. Pierce R. Butler says

    epawtows @ # 28 – Not when compared to the Reunification Front for Pangaea, you, you, splitter!

  27. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    250 million years eh? A mere snip. The key is to keep yourself occupied, don’t go Wowbagger.

    Wowbagger closed his eyes in a grim and weary expression, put some light jazz on the ship’s stereo, and reflected that he could have made it if it hadn’t been for Sunday afternoons, he really could have done.
    To begin with it was fun, he had a ball, living dangerously, taking risks, cleaning up on high-yield long-term investments, and just generally outliving the hell out of everybody. In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness which starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know that you’ve had all the baths you can usefully have that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the papers you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.

  28. Crimson Clupeidae says

    On the plus side, you’ll be able to get good Indian food in Aussieland ‘soon’…..

  29. bachfiend says

    I live in Perth Australia. Australia is going to collide with China. I’m going to Beijing in October. Should I wait till I’m able to drive there?

  30. Lofty says


    Should I wait till I’m able to drive there?

    Bring mountain climbing gear, the WAlpine Way will have developed some wrinkles.

  31. dvoracek says

    Sorry PZ, I just spent the weekend in Boston, and the human race only has about a hundred years before the climate gets us.

  32. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    @Pierce R. Butler,

    The anti-Pangaea Liberation Front were the real splitters.

  33. whheydt says

    Re: unclefroggy @ #23….
    Reent news article about Australia redoing all their geographic locations because they’ve moved 5 feet in the last 22 years since it was done. Two takeaways to me…first; the place is moving rather fast, as plate motions go, and 2; it is now so common to have sufficiently precise geolocation devices that 5 feet actually matters.

    I would also point out that the time involved in the animation–250 million years–is very close to that since the Permian Terminal Event aka “The Great Dying”.

  34. petrander says

    Making Pangaea great again is gonna be disastrous. Remember the Late Permian extinction event? Caused by all the continents cosying up together…

    To think of it, “Making America great again” would also be disastrous…

  35. wzrd1 says

    @petrander, that second part is just silly talk.
    Making America great by expanding Canada southward would not be disastrous. Making more of America polite and sane can never be considered a disaster. ;)

  36. leerudolph says

    @25: “The weather on a Pangea world would be really weird as well, one big ocean full of storms, one nearly infinite coastline, and a central plateau that is mostly desert. Tough place to live.”

    Life will have plenty of time to work on that problem. (Also, I don’t think that oceanic storms have a huge effect down near the vents, in case we have to rely on the Life 2.0 development team. But maybe there are deep storms?)

  37. reynardo says

    Has no-one noticed the one major location that remains separate from the new SuperContinent? Although it had to happen sometime.

    It looks like New Zealand is the place to be…

  38. lepidoptera says

    Today I read where researchers have found a 340-million-year-old ocean crust that could date back to Pangaea.

    The ocean floor is the ultimate recycling center. While the Earth’s continental crust can exist for billions of years, movement of tectonic plates causes subduction, which is when the ocean crust is shoved down into the molten mantle. So the ocean floor rarely lasts longer than 200 million years. But researchers in the Mediterranean Sea have found a chunk of ocean floor that may be 340 million years old, dating back to the creation of the supercontinent Pangaea, reports Dave Mosher at Business Insider.

    The floor of the Mediterranean is not well studied since much of it is covered by miles-deep sediment, making exploring impossible. So instead of visiting the crust, researchers measured what they call magnetic anomalies—stripes of differing magnetic orientations recorded in the crust—to examine the sea floor. These magnetic stripes are created as the ocean crust forms along mid ocean ridges. As the magma cools, magnetic particles in the solidifying rock orient themselves with Earth’s magnetic field.

    “Changes in the magnetic field’s orientation over time are recorded in the ocean floors, creating a unique barcode that provides a time stamp for crust formation,” says Roi Granot of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in a press release.