The good news: Driving to San Francisco will be easier in 50 million years.

The bad news: Southern California will be sitting along Alaska in 250 million years.

That’s according to a story in today’s New York Times. It takes a fascinating look at how plate tectonics will shift our continents’ future. Be sure to check out the multimedia animations.

The Times says:

Kiss the Mediterranean goodbye. Ditto the Red Sea and its wonderland of coral reefs and exotic sea life. And prepare for the day when San Francisco has a gritty new suburb: Los Angeles. Indeed, much of Southern California, including the Baja Peninsula, will eventually migrate up the west coast to make Alaska even more gargantuan.

Geologists have long prided themselves on their ability to peer into the distant past and discern the slow movements of land and sea that have continuously revised the planet’s face over eons. Now, drawing on new insights, theories, measurements and technologies — and perhaps a bit of scientific bravado — they are forecasting the shape of terra firma in the distant future. …

Practitioners acknowledge that their predictions, however intriguing, become more theoretical when pushed far into the future, as with advanced weather forecasts. Their most ambitious efforts peer 250 million years ahead. But their more short-term predictions, they note, draw on mountains of geophysical data and involve relatively small extrapolations of current trends, like the steady northward march of Southern California.

ROB DAVIS

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