The future of Earth's oceans: consequences of subduction initiation in the Atlantic and implications for supercontinent formation

Joao C. Duarte, Wouter P. Schellart, Filipe M. Rosas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Subduction initiation is a cornerstone in the edifice of plate tectonics. It marks the turning point of the Earth's Wilson cycles and ultimately the supercycles as well. In this paper, we explore the consequences of subduction zone invasion in the Atlantic Ocean, following recent discoveries at the SW Iberia margin. We discuss a buoyancy argument based on the premise that old oceanic lithosphere is unstable for supporting large basins, implying that it must be removed in subduction zones. As a consequence, we propose a new conceptual model in which both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans close simultaneously, leading to the termination of the present Earth's supercycle and to the formation of a new supercontinent, which we name Aurica. Our new conceptual model also provides insights into supercontinent formation and destruction (supercycles) proposed for past geological times (e.g. Pangaea, Rodinia, Columbia, Kenorland).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalGeological Magazine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Aurica
  • subduction invasion
  • supercontinent
  • supercycle
  • Wilson cycle

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