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Continents and Supercontinents$
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John J. W. Rogers and M. Santosh

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195165890.001.0001

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Gondwana and Pangea

Gondwana and Pangea

(p.114) 8 Gondwana and Pangea
Continents and Supercontinents

John J.W. Rogers

M. Santosh

Oxford University Press

Pangea, the most recent supercontinent, attained its condition of maximum packing at ~250 Ma. At this time, it consisted of a northern part, Laurasia, and a southern part, Gondwana. Gondwana contained the southern continents—South America, Africa, India, Madagascar, Australia, and Antarctica. It had become a coherent supercontinent at ~500 Ma and accreted to Pangea largely as a single block. Laurasia consisted of the northern continents—North America, Greenland, Europe, and northern Asia. It accreted during the Late Paleozoic and became a supercontinent when fusion of these continental blocks with Gondwana occurred near the end of the Paleozoic. The configuration of Pangea, including Gondwana, can be determined accurately by tracing the patterns of magnetic stripes in the oceans that opened within it (chapters 1 and 9). The history of accretion of Laurasia is also well known, but the development of Gondwana is highly controversial. Gondwana was clearly a single supercontinent by ~500 Ma, but whether it formed by fusion of a few large blocks or the assembly of numerous small blocks is uncertain. Figure 8.1 shows Gondwana divided into East and West parts, but the boundary between them is highly controversial (see below). We start this chapter by investigating the history of Gondwana, using appendix SI to describe detailed histories of orogenic belts of Pan-African age (600–500-Ma). Then we continue with the development of Pangea, including the Paleozoic orogenic belts that led to its development. The next section summarizes the paleomagnetically determined movement of blocks from the accretion of Gondwana until the assembly of Pangea, and the last section discusses the differences between Gondwana and Laurasia in Pangea. The patterns of dispersal and development of modern oceans are left to chapter 9, and the histories of continents following dispersal to chapter 10. By the later part of the 1800s, geologists working in the southern hemisphere realized that the Paleozoic fossils that occurred there were very different from those in the northern hemisphere. They found similar fossils in South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, and Australia, and in 1913 they added Antarctica when identical specimens were found by the Scott expedition.

Keywords:   Alleghanian orogeny, Borborema area, Central Arabia, Damaran belt, East Gondwana, Gariep belt, Hoggar massif, Iapetus Ocean, Kalahari block

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