Earth and Moon

Continuous movement

Continuous movement

What has happened, at least once, can happen again. And it will happen. The movement of the plates that form the earth's crust sliding on a viscous layer, subject to strong tensions, cannot be stopped.

Why don't we notice? Well, it's a very slow movement, or our vision very fast. But the drift of the continents is unstoppable, as is the exit abroad of new materials in the ocean ridges and the subsidence in the subduction zones.

Recall that the continents are nothing more than the lands that have emerged from some plates and, surely, in the future they will change shape and position many times, as they did in the past.

Pangea is just one step

Before Pangea drift it is known that there were previous drift periods. Pangea had only lasted a few hundred million years and was initially formed from the union of a set of land masses other than the current continents, which were in turn fragments of another supercontinent. Apparently, the breaking, dispersion and gathering of supercontinents is a continuous process.

In fact, it is not the continents, but the ocean floor itself that moves and drags the continents in this way. The process continues, and the continents follow their drift, usually at the rate of a few centimeters a year. Therefore, its current disposition is not permanent.

The Atlantic Ocean is widening as Africa and America separate; instead, the Pacific Ocean is getting smaller. The Mediterranean Sea also narrows, and will eventually disappear, as Africa moves northward to meet Europe.

When Pangea split into Gondwana and Laurasia, India was part of Gondwana. Later it broke and quickly moved northward at the unusually high speed of 17 cm per year, until it collided with Asia and joined this continent. The pressure of India against Asia caused the crushing of the crust and the formation of the Himalayan mountain range, a phenomenon that still continues.

It is believed that the union or suture of land masses will continue to be repeated again and again in the future and that all continents will meet again in a supercontinent.

◄ PreviousNext ►
Continental driftTectonic plates