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jfos's avatar

What if Pangaea happened NOWADAYS? (Backwards)

Asked by jfos (7362points) August 17th, 2009

Though some only credit is a “hypothesis”, there is pretty solid evidence that before Earth’s continents existed seperately, there was a large mass of land that got separated.

Regardless of whether or not this is true, what do you think would be the effects of a rapidly occuring movement of the continents towards each other NOWADAYS, i.e., assuming they would fit next to each other, rather than crashing together devastatingly…

What might happen during the “coming together” phase; what might happen once the continents were together?

Would this promote peace among rival countries/religions/governments or would this make peace impossible?

What do you think?

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22 Answers

Qingu's avatar

In science, the word “theory” doesn’t mean guesswork. It means the idea is accepted as fact by the scientific community. See also “theory of relativity,” “quantum theory,” and “theory of evolution.”

Specifically, the theory you are referring to is called the theory of plate tectonics.

Plate tectonics does not involve the rapid or devastating or crashing movement of continents. It is extremely slow, over millions of years. Pangaea was simply an ancient arrangement of the continental plates.

To get into a little more detail, here is what plate tectonics says. Over long periods of time, the earth’s mantle—that’s the layer right below the crust—actually acts like a liquid. The continental plates, again over long time periods, slide and drift over the mantle like ice cubes floating in water. But this process is extremely slow!

Quagmire's avatar

Before the continents came together I suspect the rapid motion of such masses would cause Tsunamis of a magnitude never seen before and they would drown all life on the continents.

wundayatta's avatar

Kind of hard to predict what will happen—or even speculate about it—when what you are thinking about is a billion or two years in the future (if ever).

In effect, however, we have a Pangaea now. The ubiquity of fast international transportation has made it possible for all kinds of lifeforms to spread around the world in what is an instant, in terms of biological time.

jfos's avatar

I have to reask, I did not convey the question correctly…

jfos's avatar


Sarcasm's avatar

A whole lot of the land would be a desert.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is an edited version of the original question.

RareDenver's avatar

I’m guessing ther would be a giant desert in the middle, millions of people would be displaced and global war would ensue.

erichw1504's avatar

I would drive to Paris.

Randy's avatar

It would make an evil genius’ job much easier. Imagine how much easier it would be to take over the world if all the continents were right there together.

marinelife's avatar

First, it would not happen all at once. The single landmass did not drift apart soddenly.

Second, when plates move together or grind against each other (which is what would be necessary for the continents to push together), there are earthquakes (and likely would tsunamis.)

I suspect countries that had access to the sea and lost their beaches and became land-locked would cause problems possibly resulting in wars and boundary disputes.

Luckily, this won’t happen.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

technically speaking, the continents are moving towards eachother essentially already.

Alaska moves on average I think 2 inches (someone around there, at least) towards Russia each year.

So eventually what will happen, when the continents begin to touch, is a gradual mountain formation most likely. Plate tectonics do not adhere to man made establisments, so any coastal cities occupying said regions would most definitely be destroyed.

However, it’s no real reason to be concerned because this process would take hundreds of thousands of years, certainly allowing any residents of said coastal areas to relocate.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

second note

once they stopped pushing on eachother, I would imagine the boundaries between countries would need to be re defined again seeing as the previous boarders no longer exist, which may cause conflict.

I don’t think simply squatting on the same rock would make us like each other any more than we do now, and in my opinion it will probably make situations much more tense, and increase the possibility of a nation to attempt world domination, seeing as there no longer would be the issue of crossing oceans with a large ground force.

wundayatta's avatar

Do oceans keep the peace? Probably, to some extent. If all the continents were mushed together, I’d expect more war.

bumwithablackberry's avatar

A really big party or a really big war, and vice versa.

Sarcasm's avatar

I think Kim Jong-Il would celebrate.
He’s been worrying that his nukes don’t go far enough. They can’t even destroy Washington, D.C. yet.

Ivan's avatar

Well, our current climate is pretty dependent on ocean currents. A giant landmass would disrupt those, leading to severe climate changes. Not to mention that, if the continents converged, there would be all sorts of subduction zones and transform boundaries. That means lots of volcanoes and earthquakes on dry land. The amount of geographic isolation of life would be reduced, so biologic diversity would probably decrease; that would be a bad thing too.

galileogirl's avatar

The continents are still moving but it is unlikely they will shift into reverse. At some point the Americas will probably come in contact with Asia and/or Australia. What will happen? Unless there is an earth destroying comet or another cataclysmic event, there will be lots of earthquakes and volcanic activity as the continents move and millions of years from now new mountains, islands and continents. If we’re lucky. we’ll be along for the ride.

jfos's avatar

I know that it wouldn’t happen how I suggested, I was only provoking creative discussion…
Thanks for the plate tectonics schooling, but I was asking merely from a hypothetical point of view.

wundayatta's avatar

@jfos Just curious, but have you been taught that the earth is only, like, 5000 years old? Do you think these theories are mere curiosities? Misguided speculation?

jfos's avatar

@daloon No? The earth has been around for over 4 billion years, according to modern science.

I guess only half of the responders understood the nature of the question, which was much more of a call for a prediction of the behavior of people on Earth if the continents were to start rapidly converging; I wasn’t proposing any geological statement or suggestion.

peridot's avatar

Some people (aka many Flutherites) would take this opportunity to get to know other cultures up close and personal. Others, especially world leaders and megalomaniacs, would eat each other alive in the epic race to become the One Leader Of Pangaea (or at least in control of its resources). And people who think we don’t have a population problem would be shown how very, very wrong they are.

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