Press Esc to close
Saturday 01 November 2014
News updated at 5:03 PM IST
Weather
Max: 25°C
Min : 19°C
In Bangalore
Partially cloudy

European continent and America may collide: study

Melbourne, Jun 19, 2013 (PTI):
For representation purpose. Wiki

Geological forces are slowly tugging Europe toward the Americas, with both continents estimated to merge about 220 million years from now, a new study claims.

A new subduction zone forming off the coast of Portugal heralds the beginning of a cycle that will see the Atlantic Ocean close as continental Europe moves closer to America, researchers said.

The study led by Monash University geologists has detected the first evidence that a passive margin in the Atlantic ocean is becoming active.

Subduction zones, such as the one beginning near Iberia, are areas where one of the tectonic plates that cover the Earth's surface dives beneath another plate into the mantle - the layer just below the crust.


Lead author Dr Joao Duarte, from the School of Geosciences said the team mapped the ocean floor and found it was beginning to fracture, indicating tectonic activity around the apparently passive South West Iberia plate margin.

"What we have detected is the very beginnings of an active margin - it's like an embryonic subduction zone," Duarte said.

"Significant earthquake activity, including the 1755 quake which devastated Lisbon, indicated that there might be convergent tectonic movement in the area. For the first time, we have been able to provide not only evidences that this is indeed the case, but also a consistent driving mechanism," said Duarte.

The incipient subduction in the Iberian zone could signal the start of a new phase of the Wilson Cycle - where plate movements break up supercontinents, like Pangaea, and open oceans, stabilise and then form new subduction zones which close the oceans and bring the scattered continents back together, researchers said.

They said this break-up and reformation of supercontinents has happened at least three times, over more than four billion years, on Earth. The Iberian subduction will gradually pull Iberia towards the US over approximately 220 million years.

The findings provide a unique opportunity to observe a passive margin becoming active - a process that will take around 20 million years. Even at this early phase the site will yield data that is crucial to refining the geodynamic models.

"Understanding these processes will certainly provide new insights on how subduction zones may have initiated in the past and how oceans start to close," Duarte said.
The study was published in journal Geology.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
A view of the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the occasion of his birth anniversary...

A view of the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the occasion of his birth anniversary...

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi paying tribute to former Prime Minister...

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi paying tribute to former Prime Minister...

Artists perform during a function on the occasion of birth anniversary of Sardar...

Artists perform during a function on the occasion of birth anniversary of Sardar...

Members of Thamizhar Vazhvurimai Koottamaippu during a protest against Sri Lankan court's...

Members of Thamizhar Vazhvurimai Koottamaippu during a protest against Sri Lankan court's...

Indian cricket players during their practice session at barabati stadium in Cuttack...

Indian cricket players during their practice session at barabati stadium in Cuttack...

Delhi Police band performs at India Gate near Amar Jawan Jyoti to salute Sardar...

Delhi Police band performs at India Gate near Amar Jawan Jyoti to salute Sardar...

Army soldiers patrolling after an IED was recovered in a gas cylinder near the Circuit House...

Army soldiers patrolling after an IED was recovered in a gas cylinder near the Circuit House...

Tourist take pictures from a boat as people bath in the Ganges river in Varanasi...

Tourist take pictures from a boat as people bath in the Ganges river in Varanasi...

Devendra Fadnavis being sworn-in as the new Maharashtra Chief Minister by Governor...

Devendra Fadnavis being sworn-in as the new Maharashtra Chief Minister by Governor...

A camel herder sits as he feeds his camels at the annual cattle fair in Pushkar, in the Rajasthan...

A camel herder sits as he feeds his camels at the annual cattle fair in Pushkar, in the Rajasthan...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bangalore - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523