Border disputes arise over ambiguously assigned territories. A country is only a country if someone says so and that someone has disciples. Countries are not predetermined, no matter what one’s national anthem solicits. Nor are they grafted into stone by the forces of nature. Nature disregards our stakes and trills for power, showing us time and time again what it’s done and what it can do.

These rocks didn’t just get up and rocked away

Geologists have recently found rocks in Northern Australia. This alone is trite, but know that these rocks had geological features atypical to the Australian bedrock. The researchers believe that they resemble those from the Canadian Shield, the continental crust underlying most of North America.

Someone may think this is a result of a troubled researcher kicking rocks, seeking revenge over botched publication rights, but it is not. When rocks are found resembling rocks from another region, it becomes a clue for how the Earth’s crust was assembled in the past. These rocks are similar, because, maybe, these two regions were once linked together.

gtownausrocks
Rocks found in Northern Australia (Georgetown) have a similar composition to rocks found in Canada. Image from: Geology, https://doi.org/10.1130/G39980.1

Supercontinents of the Past

There are many theories of continental organization, several suggesting that ‘supercontinents’ existed throughout much of the Earth’s history. These supercontinents were large landmasses that existed millions or billions of years ago, before breaking into the seven continents we see today. The discovery of Canadian Shield rocks in Australia implies that parts of North America and Australia were joined, along with the other continents, to form a supercontinent known as Nuna (it is also sometimes referred to as Columbia). Nuna isn’t the sole supercontinent configuration that the Earth has morphed through; another supercontinent, Pangea, is more well-known to the public as the more recent supercontinent configuration. Earth was in its Pangea formation 175 million years ago, while the Nuna formation existed from 2.5 to 1.5 billion years ago.

nunamap
This is how Australia and North America may have been arranged 1.6 billion years ago.  Image from: Geology, https://doi.org/10.1130/G39980.1

Supercontinent of the Future

The ways rocks move are continuously examined so that we can piece together our planet’s history, and our planet’s future. The continents are presently divided into seven regions, but this may not last. Some researchers hypothesize that in 250 million years, our continents will become one again, an entity foreseen as Pangea Proxima (‘the next Pangea’).

~

As continents shift and drift, so will the countries they house. Our nations will metamorphose as borders break. These changes will progress slowly, but they will happen, along with the changes in how we think about our world. Which countries will clutch its borders over an eroding earth? Which will be impervious to changing times and changing spaces?

Let’s check back in 250 million years.

 

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