The Atlantic Ocean may begin to disappear in the Strait of Gibraltar

Spain and Africa will end up united by the Strait due to the disappearance of the Atlantic Ocean. This could occur because there are subduction zones (where one lithospheric plate, also known as a tectonic plate, descends below another) that will cause the Strait of Gibraltar to expand into the interior of the Atlantic and will contribute to forming a ring of fire similar to that of the Pacific Ocean.

Also called fire beltis characterized by being a subduction zone, because it is responsible for 90% of the seismic movement in the area due to the movement that exists between the tectonic plates and its name comes from because 75% of the active volcanoes in the region are concentrated in this sector. planet.

This is revealed by a study carried out on computational models by scientists from the University of Lisbon in which they explain in geological terms that this will happen approximately 20 million years from now.

The oceans, like living beings, have a Lifecycle. Although they seem eternal, they complete several stages in which they are born, grow and one day they close. This process, which lasts hundreds of thousands of years, is called Wilson cycle.

In the case of the Atlantic, it was born when Pangea (It was the supercontinent that existed and that grouped together most of the land on the planet) that broke apart about 180 million years ago and will one day close. An example of this is the case of Mediterranean which is what remains of a great ocean, which was called Thetiswhich once existed between Africa and Eurasia.

For an ocean to stop growing and begin to close as in the case of the Atlantic, new subduction zones must form. These areas are difficult, because they require the plates to break and they are very strong.

One way out of this “situation” is to consider that subduction zones can migrate from a dying ocean like the Mediterranean to pristine or ancient oceans like the Atlantic. This phase was called subduction invasion.

This study shows how such a direct invasion of subduction zones can occur. Using a gravity-driven 3D computational model, it provides advanced modeling tools that can simulate the formation of the Gibraltar Arc, in great detail and also how it may evolve in the future, as explained by Dom Luiz, from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon.

Furthermore, the study provides more information about the Gibraltar subduction zone. Many researchers considered it to be still active, because it had slowed down significantly in the last million years. According to these results, its slow phase will last another 20 million years and then the Atlantic Ocean will accelerate. This will be the beginning of crustal recycling on the eastern side of the Atlantic and could be the beginning of its closure.

Apart from the Strait there are two subduction zones on the other side of the Atlantic: The Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean and the Arc of Scotland, near Antarctica. These areas invaded the Atlantic several million years ago.

The Gibraltar study is an invaluable opportunity, because it allows us to observe the process in its early stages, when it is just happening, he added. João Duarte, because he plays a fundamental role in learning about the geological evolution of our planet. And understand what implications it has with seismic activity in the area, such as the Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755, considered the most destructive natural event to date on the Peninsula. Iberian. It lasted 120 seconds and reached a maximum intensity of X (extreme), according to the Mercalli scale.