Press Esc to close
Monday 28 July 2014
News updated at 11:53 PM IST
Weather
Max: 0°C
Min : 0°C
In Bangalore
Sunny day

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
England's Sam Robson, left, fields the ball beside four other slips ...

England's Sam Robson, left, fields the ball beside four other slips ...

A Muslim woman performs ablution before having iftar meal on the last day of the holy month...

A Muslim woman performs ablution before having iftar meal on the last day of the holy month...

Police take top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda while taking him to court in Berhampur...

Police take top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda while taking him to court in Berhampur...

The launch of Science Express biodiversity special (SEBS) train in New Delhi...

The launch of Science Express biodiversity special (SEBS) train in New Delhi...

England's Ian Bell hits a shot during the second day of the third cricket test...

England's Ian Bell hits a shot during the second day of the third cricket test...

Bollywood music director Anu Malik, actor Sonam Kapoor, filmmaker Farah Khan and Pakistani...

Bollywood music director Anu Malik, actor Sonam Kapoor, filmmaker Farah Khan and Pakistani...

India shooter Vijay Kumar at Barry Buddon Shooting Centre in

India shooter Vijay Kumar at Barry Buddon Shooting Centre in

Muslim women offer namaz in Coimbatore on Monday during...

Muslim women offer namaz in Coimbatore on Monday during...

India gold medallist Rahi Sarnobatat and silver medallist Anisa Sayyed pose for...

India gold medallist Rahi Sarnobatat and silver medallist Anisa Sayyed pose for...

Ned McKendry of Australia is seen underwater as he...

Ned McKendry of Australia is seen underwater as he...

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