Wednesday 23 April 2014
News updated at 9:01 PM IST
Weather
Max: 35.5°C
Min : 21.5°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
Bengaluru FC player in a Jubilant mood at International Airport,Bengaluru after winning I league...

Bengaluru FC player in a Jubilant mood at International Airport,Bengaluru after winning I league...

Timothy John Bristow, Sir Robert Bristow’s nephew with his wife Rebecca visits the Harbour Bridge...

Timothy John Bristow, Sir Robert Bristow’s nephew with his wife Rebecca visits the Harbour Bridge...

Priyanka Vadra shares meal with a village woman in a field during an election campaign for her...

Priyanka Vadra shares meal with a village woman in a field during an election campaign for her...

Encyclopaedia Britannica President Jorge Cauz and Geeta Dharmarajan, founder & executive directoR...

Encyclopaedia Britannica President Jorge Cauz and Geeta Dharmarajan, founder & executive directoR...

School children greet Sachin Tendulkar on the eve of his birthday in Moradabad...

School children greet Sachin Tendulkar on the eve of his birthday in Moradabad...

An Indian Hindu devotee prays to the river Ganges, in Varanasi, India...

An Indian Hindu devotee prays to the river Ganges, in Varanasi, India...

A ragpicker girl Zahanara Khatun, 12, looks at the camera as she searches for recyclable items at...

A ragpicker girl Zahanara Khatun, 12, looks at the camera as she searches for recyclable items at...

Indians stand on the banks of the River Yamuna, covered in industrial effluence on Earth Day in...

Indians stand on the banks of the River Yamuna, covered in industrial effluence on Earth Day in...

Indian devotees pray and take dip on the banks of the river Ganges, in Varanasi...

Indian devotees pray and take dip on the banks of the river Ganges, in Varanasi...

A man poses as he gets his face painted ahead of the sixth phase of India's general election...

A man poses as he gets his face painted ahead of the sixth phase of India's general election...

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