‘Whether we like it or not the Australian continent is going to collide with Asia,’ says Curtin’s Professor Zheng-Xiang Li.
Don’t panic just yet though, Professor Li’s prediction will not happen for another few hundred million years… a considerable time even for a profession that measures time-frames in millennia.
Professor Li leads an international team of geologists and geophysicists who recently published their research about the middle history of the earth.
Their paper, Assembly, configuration, and break-up history of Rodinia: A synthesis has been widely acknowledged within the community and brought together geoscientists normally in disagreement.
The research documents the existence of Rodinia, a vanished super-continent that existed 900 million years ago.
Rodinia is said to have been assembled from the parts of present day continents, before the continents we inhabit began to slowly drift apart to the positions they are at today.
The continents have not stopped moving though, they continue to move today as the plates in the earth’s crust move.
‘Australia is moving northwards 7cms every year, towards Asia,’ he said.
‘Its very real, that’s the same speed that our finger nails grow each year.’
Professor Li’s team has collected data that not only asserts Rodinia existed but that the same process of continent re-grouping happens regularly and will happen again.
‘The earth is a living thing, it is always evolving,’ he said.
‘We believe that the earth evolves in a cyclic pattern, where the continents move apart and now are moving back together.’
‘When the continents come together, the earth’s crust will form a sort of “ring of fire” around the new super-continent,’ he said.
Professor Li says that this process caused the formation of super-plumes—huge, up-shots of hot, partially molten rock deep in the earth’s mantle, which eventually break up the supercontinents.
‘Inland, the super-continent will most likely be very dry in the middle, and the climate totally different.’
When asked whether human beings will be around to see these changes, Professor Li replies:
‘I hope so.’