Back to the future II: tidal evolution of four supercontinent scenarios

Davies, Hannah S.; Green, J. A. Mattias; Duarte, Joao C.

The Earth is currently 180 Myr into a supercontinent cycle that began with the break-up of Pangaea and which will end around 200–250 Myr (million years) in the future, as the next supercontinent forms. As the continents move around the planet they change the geometry of ocean basins, and thereby modify their resonant properties. In doing so, oceans move through tidal resonance, causing the global tides to be profoundly affected. Here, we use a dedicated and established global tidal model to simulate the evolution of tides during four future supercontinent scenarios. We show that the number of tidal resonances on Earth varies between one and five in a supercontinent cycle and that they last for no longer than 20 Myr. They occur in opening basins after about 140–180 Myr, an age equivalent to the present-day Atlantic Ocean, which is near resonance for the dominating semi-diurnal tide. They also occur when an ocean basin is closing, highlighting that within its lifetime, a large ocean basin – its history described by the Wilson cycle – may go through two resonances: one when opening and one when closing. The results further support the existence of a super-tidal cycle associated with the supercontinent cycle and gives a deep-time proxy for global tidal energetics.

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Davies, Hannah S. / Green, J. A. Mattias / Duarte, Joao C.: Back to the future II: tidal evolution of four supercontinent scenarios. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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