Finding Fault

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Geologists have discovered a fault system off the coast of Portugal “which scientists believe could be the first signs of an eventual convergence of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates”:

Geologists from Monash University mapped the ocean floor off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula, finding the evidence for what lead author João Duarte described as “an embryonic subduction zone”. These subduction zones are where one tectonic plate dives underneath another one to be destroyed, often causing earthquakes in the process. … [T]his new subduction zone near Portugal becoming active could signal the very first steps of that process of separation reversing — one of the stages of the hypothesised “supercontinent cycle“. This theory holds that the Earth’s plates routinely form into, and break out of, giant supercontinents over the course of hundreds of millions of years. Pangaea was the most recent of these. …

The new study … proposes that, in an estimated 220 millions years, the North American plate will begin moving towards the Eurasian plate again as a new supercontinent begins to appear, with the Atlantic Ocean disappearing into the new subduction zone near Portugal.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)