Meet Supercontinent Pangaea Proxima—in 250 Million Years

Our maps show how Earth's mountains collide and oceans swirl as a new landmass takes shape.

This story appears in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine.

The continents are in constant motion: Tectonic plates crash together and break apart, creating new crust while old crust is pulled below the surface. The process shrinks and widens oceans, uplifts mountain ranges, and rearranges landmasses. In about 250 million years a new supercontinent, Pangaea Proxima, will form.

PANGAEA

PROXIMA

Equator

Pacific

Ocean

3,000 mi

3,000 km

SCALE AT THE EQUATOR

Elevation

Sea

level

30,000 ft

9,000 m

15,000 ft

4,500 m

250 Million years in the future (ABOVE)

Only a vestige of the Atlantic Ocean remains

as landmasses are joined together into a new

supercontinent. New high mountains mark

the sites of massive collisions.

WORLD RESHAPED

100 MILLION YEARS IN THE FUTURE

Plate activity along eastern North America

will cause the Atlantic Ocean to shrink and

continents to converge.

Europe

ASIA

South

America

AUSTRALIA

ANTARCTICA

PRESENT DAY

Today’s landscape is a blip in geologic time.

The Atlantic Ocean widens by an inch a year as

plates under it spread apart, forming new crust.

Europe

North

America

ASIA

Africa

South

America

AUSTRALIA

ANTARCTICA

100 MILLION YEARS AGO

As Pangaea divided into distinct landmasses,

the coasts of today’s continents began to

emerge, along with the Atlantic

and Indian Oceans.

North

America

ASIA

Europe

Africa

South

America

AUSTRALIA

ANTARCTICA

200 MILLION YEARS AGO

Early dinosaurs roamed the last super-

continent, Pangaea, formed by the collision

of older continents.

London

Paris

Elevation

30,000

9,000

Rome

feet

meters

Lagos

15,000

4,500

Moscow

Cairo

Sea level

PANGAEA

PROXIMA

New York

Los Angeles

Chicago

Tropic of Cancer

Possible new

highest point

Nairobi

Delhi

Mt. Everest

Cape Town

Mexico

City

Equator

Tokyo

1,000 mi

Shanghai

1,000 km

Pacific

Ocean

SCALE AT THE EQUATOR

Tropic of Capricorn

250 Million years

in the future

Lima

Sydney

Only a vestige of the Atlantic Ocean remains as landmasses are joined together into a new super-

continent. New high mountains mark the sites of massive collisions.

WORLD RESHAPED

Europe

Europe

North

America

North

America

ASIA

ASIA

Europe

ASIA

Africa

Africa

South

America

South

America

AUSTRALIA

AUSTRALIA

South

America

AUSTRALIA

ANTARCTICA

ANTARCTICA

ANTARCTICA

100 MILLION YEARS AGO

PRESENT DAY

100 MILLION YEARS

IN THE FUTURE

200 MILLION YEARS AGO

Early dinosaurs roamed

the last supercontinent,

Pangaea, formed by the

collision of older continents.

As Pangaea divided into distinct landmasses, the coasts of today’s continents began

to emerge, along with the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Today’s landscape is a blip in geologic time. The Atlantic Ocean widens by an inch a year as plates under it spread apart, forming new crust.

Plate activity along eastern

North America will cause the

Atlantic Ocean to shrink and

continents to converge.