Gondwana ( // ), (or Gondwanaland), was a supercontinent that existed from the Neoproterozoic (about 550 million years ago) until the Jurassic (about 180 million years ago).
In geology, a supercontinent is the assembly of most or all of Earth's continental blocks or cratons to form a single large landmass. However, many earth scientists use a different definition: "a clustering of nearly all continents", which leaves room for interpretation and is easier to apply to Precambrian times.
The Neoproterozoic Era is the unit of geologic time from.
The Jurassic period is a geologic period and system that spanned 56 million years from the end of the Triassic Period 201.3 million years ago (Mya) to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period 145 Mya. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic Era, also known as the Age of Reptiles. The start of the period was marked by the major Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Two other extinction events occurred during the period: the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction in the Early Jurassic, and the Tithonian event at the end; however, neither event ranks among the "Big Five" mass extinctions.
It was formed by the accretion of several cratons. Eventually, Gondwana became the largest piece of continental crust of the Paleozoic Era, covering an area of about 100,000,000 km2 (39,000,000 sq mi). During the Carboniferous Period, it merged with Euramerica to form a larger supercontinent called Pangaea. Gondwana (and Pangaea) gradually broke up during the Mesozoic Era. The remnants of Gondwana make up about two thirds of today's continental area, including South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Indian Subcontinent and Arabia.
Accretion, in geology, is a process by which material is added to a tectonic plate or a landmass. This material may be sediment, volcanic arcs, seamounts, or other igneous features.
A craton is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere, which consists of the Earth's two topmost layers, the crust and the uppermost mantle. Having often survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, cratons are generally found in the interiors of tectonic plates. They are characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock, which may be covered by younger sedimentary rock. They have a thick crust and deep lithospheric roots that extend as much as several hundred kilometres into the Earth's mantle.
Continental crust is the layer of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks that forms the continents and the areas of shallow seabed close to their shores, known as continental shelves. This layer is sometimes called sial because its bulk composition is richer in silicates and aluminium minerals and has a lower density compared to the oceanic crust, called sima which is richer in magnesium silicate minerals and is denser. Changes in seismic wave velocities have shown that at a certain depth, there is a reasonably sharp contrast between the more felsic upper continental crust and the lower continental crust, which is more mafic in character.
The formation of Gondwana began c. with the East African Orogeny, the collision of India and Madagascar with East Africa,and was completed c. with the overlapping Brasiliano and Kuunga orogenies, the collision of South America with Africa and the addition of Australia and Antarctica, respectively.
The East African Orogeny (EAO) is the main stage in the Neoproterozoic assembly of East and West Gondwana along the Mozambique Belt.
Brasiliano orogeny or Brasiliano cycle refers to a series of orogenies of Neoproterozoic age exposed chiefly in Brazil but also in other parts of South America. The Brasiliano orogeny is a regional name for the larger Pan-African/Brasiliano orogeny that extended not only in South America but across most of Gondwana. In a wide sense the Brasiliano orogeny includes also the Pampean orogeny. Almeida et al. coined the term Brasiliano Orogenic Cycle in 1973. The orogeny led to the closure of several oceans and aulacogens including the Adamastor Ocean, the Goianides Ocean, the Puncoviscana Ocean and the Peri-Franciscano Ocean.
The Kuunga orogeny is an orogeny that occurred in South-east Africa during the Ediacaran and Cambrian. Composed of three separate orogenic belts that are slightly younger than the East African orogeny, the Kuunga orogeny documents the collision between north and south Gondwana, or what is today Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica and northern Mozambique in Africa.
The continent of Gondwana was named by Austrian scientist Eduard Suess, after the Gondwana region of central India which is derived from Sanskrit for "forest of the Gonds".The name had been previously used in a geological context, first by H.B. Medlicott in 1872, from which the Gondwana sedimentary sequences (Permian-Triassic) are also described. The term "Gondwanaland" is preferred by some scientists in order to make a clear distinction between the region and the supercontinent.
Eduard Suess was an Austrian geologist and an expert on the geography of the Alps. He is responsible for hypothesising two major former geographical features, the supercontinent Gondwana and the Tethys Ocean.
Gondwana is a region of India, named after the Gondi people who live there. The name of the ancient continent of Gondwanaland was derived from Gondwana, because some of the earliest rock formations of this continent were first investigated in part of the region, in modern Odisha.
India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
The assembly of Gondwana was a protracted process during the Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic, which however remains incompletely understood because of the lack of paleo-magnetic data. Several orogenies, collectively known as the Pan-African orogeny, led to the amalgamation of most of the continental fragments of a much older supercontinent, Rodinia. One of those orogenic belts, the Mozambique Belt, formedand was originally interpreted as the suture between East (India, Madagascar, Antarctica, and Australia) and West Gondwana (Africa and South America). Three orogenies were recognized during the 1990s: the East African Orogeny ( ) and Kuunga orogeny (including the Malagasy Orogeny in southern Madagascar) ( ), the collision between East Gondwana and East Africa in two steps, and the Brasiliano orogeny ( ), the successive collision between South American and African cratons.
An orogeny is an event that leads to both structural deformation and compositional differentiation of the Earth's lithosphere at convergent plate margins. An orogen or orogenic belt develops when a continental plate crumples and is pushed upwards to form one or more mountain ranges; this involves a series of geological processes collectively called orogenesis.
The Pan-African orogeny was a series of major Neoproterozoic orogenic events which related to the formation of the supercontinents Gondwana and Pannotia about 600 million years ago. This orogeny is also known as the Pan-Gondwanan or Saldanian Orogeny. The Pan-African orogeny and the Grenville orogeny are the largest known systems of orogenies on Earth. The sum of the continental crust formed in the Pan-African orogeny and the Grenville orogeny makes the Neoproterozoic the period of Earth's history that has produced most continental crust.
Rodinia is a Neoproterozoic supercontinent that was assembled 1.1–0.9 billion years ago and broken up 750–633 million years ago. Valentine & Moores 1970 were probably the first to recognise a Precambrian supercontinent, which they named 'Pangaea I'. It was renamed 'Rodinia' by McMenamin & McMenamin 1990 who also were the first to produce a reconstruction and propose a temporal framework for the supercontinent.
The final stages of Gondwanan assembly overlapped with the opening of the Iapetus Ocean between Laurentia and western Gondwana.During this interval, the Cambrian explosion occurred. Laurentia was docked against the western shores of a united Gondwana for a short period near the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary, forming the short-lived and still disputed supercontinent Pannotia.
The Iapetus Ocean was an ocean that existed in the late Neoproterozoic and early Paleozoic eras of the geologic timescale. The Iapetus Ocean was situated in the southern hemisphere, between the paleocontinents of Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia. The ocean disappeared with the Acadian, Caledonian and Taconic orogenies, when these three continents joined to form one big landmass called Euramerica. The "southern" Iapetus Ocean has been proposed to have closed with the Famatinian and Taconic orogenies, meaning a collision between Western Gondwana and Laurentia.
Laurentia or the North American Craton is a large continental craton that forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent. Many times in its past, Laurentia has been a separate continent, as it is now in the form of North America, although originally it also included the cratonic areas of Greenland and also the northwestern part of Scotland, known as the Hebridean Terrane. During other times in its past, Laurentia has been part of larger continents and supercontinents and itself consists of many smaller terranes assembled on a network of Early Proterozoic orogenic belts. Small microcontinents and oceanic islands collided with and sutured onto the ever-growing Laurentia, and together formed the stable Precambrian craton seen today.
The Cambrian explosion or Cambrian radiation was an event approximatelyin the Cambrian period when most major animal phyla appeared in the fossil record. It lasted for about 13 –25 million years and resulted in the divergence of most modern metazoan phyla. The event was accompanied by major diversification of other organisms.
The Mozambique Ocean separated the Congo–Tanzania–Bangweulu Block of central Africa from Neoproterozoic India (India, the Antongil Block in far eastern Madagascar, the Seychelles, and the Napier and Rayner Complexes in East Antarctica). The Azania continent(much of central Madagascar, the Horn of Africa and parts of Yemen and Arabia) was an island in the Mozambique Ocean.
The Australia/Mawson continent was still separated from India, eastern Africa, and Kalahari by c. Ma, India had reached its Gondwanan position, which initiated the Kuunga orogeny (also known as the Pinjarra orogeny). Meanwhile, on the other side of the newly-forming Africa, Kalahari collided with Congo and Rio de la Plata which closed the Adamastor Ocean. c. 540–530 Ma, the closure of the Mozambique Ocean brought India next to Australia–East Antarctica, and both North and South China were located in proximity to Australia., when most of western Gondwana had already been amalgamated. By c. 550
As the rest of Gondwana formed, a complex series of orogenic events assembled the eastern parts of Gondwana (eastern Africa, Arabian-Nubian Shield, Seychelles, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, East Antarctica, and Australia) c.. First the Arabian-Nubian Shield collided with eastern Africa (in the Kenya-Tanzania region) in the East African Orogeny c. . Then Australia and East Antarctica were merged with the remaining Gondwana c. in the Kuunga Orogeny.
The later Malagasy orogeny at about 550–515 Mya affected Madagascar, eastern East Africa and southern India. In it, Neoproterozoic India collided with the already combined Azania and Congo–Tanzania–Bangweulu Block, suturing along the Mozambique Belt.
The 18,000 km (11,000 mi)-long Terra Australis Orogen developed along Gondwana's western, southern, and eastern margins. Proto-Gondwanan Cambrian arc belts from this margin have been found in eastern Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and Antarctica. Though these belts formed a continuous arc chain, the direction of subduction was different between the Australian-Tasmanian and New Zealand-Antarctica arc segments.
A large number of terranes were accreted to Eurasia during Gondwana's existence but the Cambrian or Precambrian origin of many of these terranes remains uncertain. For example, some Palaeozoic terranes and microcontinents that now make up Central Asia, often called the "Kazakh" and "Mongolian terranes", were progressively amalgamated into the continent Kazakhstania in the Late Silurian. Whether these blocks originated on the shores of Gondwana is not known.
In the Early Palaeozoic the Armorican terrane, which today form large parts of France, was part of either Peri-Gondwana or core Gondwana; the Rheic Ocean closed in front of it and the Palaeo-Tethys Ocean opened behind it. Precambrian rocks from the Iberian Peninsula suggest it too probably formed part of core Gondwana before its detachment as an orocline in the Variscan orogeny close to the Carboniferous–Permian boundary.
South-east Asia is made of Gondwanan and Cathaysian continental fragments that were assembled during the Mid-Palaeozoic and Cenozoic. This process can be divided into three phases of rifting along Gondwana's northern margin: firstly, in the Devonian, North and South China, together with Tarim and Quidam (north-western China) rifted, opening the Palaeo-Tethys behind them. These terranes accreted to Asia during Late Devonian and Permian. Secondly, in the Late Carboniferous to Early Permian, Cimmerian terranes opened Meso-Tethys Ocean; Sibumasu and Qiantang were added to south-east Asia during Late Permian and Early Jurassic. Thirdly, in the Late Triassic to Late Jurassic, Lhasa, West Burma, Woyla terranes opened the Neo-Tethys Ocean; Lhasa collided with Asia during the Early Cretaceous, and West Burma and Woyla during the Late Cretaceous.
Gondwana's long, northern margin had remained a mostly passive margin throughout the Palaeozoic. The Early Permian opening of the Neo-Tethys Ocean along this margin produced a long series of terranes, many of which were and still are being deformed in the Himalaya Orogeny. From Turkey to north-eastern India: the Taurides in southern Turkey; the Lesser Caucasus Terrane in Georgia; the Sanand, Alborz, and Lut terranes in Iran; the Mangysglak or Kopetdag Terrane in the Caspian Sea; the Afghan Terrane; the Karakorum Terrane in northern Pakistan; and the Lhasa and Qiangtang terranes in Tibet. The Permian–Triassic widening of the Neo-Tethys pushed all these terranes across the Equator and over to Eurasia.
During the Neoproterozoic to Palaeozoic phase of the Terra Australis Orogen a series of terranes were rafted from the proto-Andean margin when the Iapteus Ocean opened, to be added back to Gondwana during the closure of that ocean.During the paleozoic some blocks which helped to form parts of the Southern Cone of South America, include a piece transferred from Laurentia when the west edge of Gondwana scraped against southeast Laurentia in the Ordovician. This is the Cuyania or Precordillera terrane of the Famatinian orogeny in northwest Argentina which may have continued the line of the Appalachians southwards. Chilenia terrane accreted later against Cuyania. The collision of the Patagonian terrane with the southwestern Gondwanan occurred in the late Paleozoic. Subduction-related igneous rocks from beneath the North Patagonian Massif have been dated at 320–330 million years old, indicating that the subduction process initiated in the early Carboniferous. This was relatively short lived (lasting about 20 million years), and initial contact of the two landmasses occurred in the mid-Carboniferous, with broader collision during the early Permian. In the Devonian an island arc named Chaitenia accreted to Patagonia in what is now south-central Chile.
Gondwana and Laurasia formed the Pangaea supercontinent during the Carboniferous. Pangaea began to break up in the Mid-Jurassic when the Central Atlantic opened.
In the western end of Pangaea, the collision between Gondwana and Laurasia closed the Rheic and Palaeo-Tethys oceans. The obliquity of this closure resulted in the docking of some northern terranes in the Marathon, Ouachita, Alleghanian, and Variscan orogenies, respectively. Southern terranes, such as Chortis and Oaxaca, on the other hand, remained largely unaffected by the collision along the southern shores of Laurentia. Some Peri-Gondwanan terranes, such as Yucatán and Florida, were buffered from collisions by major promontories. Other terranes, such as Carolina and Meguma, were directly involved in the collision. The final collision resulted in the Variscan-Appalachian Mountains, stretching from present-day Mexico to southern Europe. Meanwhile, Baltica collided with Siberia and Kazakhstania which resulted in the Uralian orogeny and Laurasia. Pangaea was finally amalgamated in the Late Carboniferous-Early Permian, but the oblique forces continued until Pangaea began to rift in the Triassic.
In the eastern end collisions occurred slightly later. The North China, South China, and Indochina blocks rifted from Gondwana during the middle Paleozoic and opened the Proto-Tethys Ocean. North China docked with Mongolia and Siberia during the Carboniferous–Permian, followed by South China. The Cimmerian blocks then rifted from Gondwana to form the Palaeo-Thethys and Neo-Tethys oceans in the Late Carboniferous, and docked with Asia during the Triassic and Jurassic. Western Pangaea began to rift while the eastern end was still being assembled.
The formation of Pangaea and its mountains had a tremendous impact on global climate and sea levels, which resulted in glaciations and continent-wide sedimentation. In North America, the base of the Absaroka sequence coincides with the Alleghanian and Ouachita orogenies and are indicative of a large-scale change in the mode of deposition far away from the Pangaean orogenies. Ultimately, these changes contributed to the Permian–Triassic extinction event and left large deposits of hydrocarbons, coal, evaporite, and metals.
The break-up of Pangaea began with the Central Atlantic magmatic province (CAMP) between South America, Africa, North America, and Europe. CAMP covered more than seven million square kilometres over a few million years, reached its peak at c., and coincided with the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. The reformed Gondwanan continent was not precisely the same as that which had existed before Pangaea formed; for example, most of Florida and southern Georgia and Alabama is underlain by rocks that were originally part of Gondwana, but this region stayed attached to North America when the Central Atlantic opened.
Antarctica, the centre of the supercontinent, shared boundaries with all other Gondwana continents and the fragmentation of Gondwana propagated clockwise around it. The break-up was the result of one of the Earth's most extensive large igneous provinces c., but the oldest magnetic anomalies between South America, Africa, and Antarctica are found in what is now the southern Weddell Sea where initial break-up occurred during the Jurassic c. .
Gondwana began to break up in the early Jurassic following the extensive and fast emplacement of the Karoo-Ferrar flood basalts c.. Before the Karoo plume initiated rifting between Africa and Antarctica, it separated a series of smaller continental blocks from Gondwana's southern, Proto-Pacific margin (along what is now the Transantarctic Mountains): the Antarctic Peninsula, Marie Byrd Land, Zealandia, and Thurston Island; the Falkland Islands and Ellsworth–Whitmore Mountains (in Antarctica) were rotated 90° in opposite directions; and South America south of the Gastre Fault (often referred to as Patagonia) was pushed westward. The history of the Africa-Antarctica break-up can be studied in great detail in the fracture zones and magnetic anomalies flanking the Southwest Indian Ridge.
The Madagascar block and the Mascarene Plateau, stretching from the Seychelles to Réunion, were broken off India; elements of this breakup nearly coincide with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. The India–Madagascar–Seychelles separations appear to coincide with the eruption of the Deccan basalts, whose eruption site may survive as the Réunion hotspot. The Seychelles and the Maldives are now separated by the Central Indian Ridge.
During the initial break-up in the Early Jurassic a marine transgression swept over the Horn of Africa covering Triassic planation surfaces with sandstone, limestone, shale, marls and evaporites.
East Gondwana, comprising Antarctica, Madagascar, India, and Australia, began to separate from Africa. East Gondwana then began to break up c.when India moved northwest from Australia-Antarctica. The Indian Plate and the Australian Plate are now separated by the Capricorn Plate and its diffuse boundaries. During the opening of the Indian Ocean, the Kerguelen hotspot first formed the Kerguelen Plateau on the Antarctic Plate c. and then the Ninety East Ridge on the Indian Plate at c. . The Kerguelen Plateau and the Broken Ridge, the southern end of the Ninety East Ridge, are now separated by the Southeast Indian Ridge.
Separation between Australia and East Antarctica began c.with sea-floor spreading occurring c. . A shallow seaway developed over the South Tasman Rise during the Early Cenozoic and as oceanic crust started to separate the continents during the Eocene c. global ocean temperature dropped significantly. A dramatic shift from arc- to rift magmatism c. separated Zealandia, including New Zealand, the Campbell Plateau, Chatham Rise, Lord Howe Rise, Norfolk Ridge, and New Caledonia, from West Antarctica c. .
The opening of the South Atlantic Ocean divided West Gondwana (South America and Africa), but there is a considerable debate over the exact timing of this break-up. Rifting propagated from south to north along Triassic–Early Jurassic lineaments, but intra-continental rifts also began to develop within both continents in Jurassic–Cretaceous sedimentary basins; subdividing each continent into three sub-plates. Rifting began c.at Falkland latitudes, forcing Patagonia to move relative to the still static remainder of South America and Africa, and this westward movement lasted until the Early Cretaceous . From there rifting propagated northward during the Late Jurassic c. or Early Cretaceous c. most likely forcing dextral movements between sub-plates on either side. South of the Walvis Ridge and Rio Grande Rise the Paraná and Etendeka magmatics resulted in further ocean-floor spreading c. and the development of rifts systems on both continents, including the Central African Rift System and the Central African Shear Zone which lasted until c. . At Brazilian latitudes spreading is more difficult to assess because of the lack of palaeo-magnetic data, but rifting occurred in Nigeria at the Benue Trough c. . North of the Equator the rifting began after and continued until c. .
The first phases of Andean orogeny in the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous were characterized by extensional tectonics, rifting, the development of back-arc basins and the emplacement of large batholiths.This development is presumed to have been linked to the subduction of cold oceanic lithosphere. During the mid to Late Cretaceous (ca. 90 million years ago) the Andean orogeny changed significantly in character. Warmer and younger oceanic lithosphere is believed to have started to be subducted beneath South America around this time. Such kind of subduction is held responsible not only for the intense contractional deformation that different lithologies were subject to, but also the uplift and erosion known to have occurred from the Late Cretaceous onward. Plate tectonic reorganization since the mid-Cretaceous might also have been linked to the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean. Another change related to mid-Cretaceous plate tectonic changes was the change of subduction direction of the oceanic lithosphere that went from having south-east motion to having a north-east motion at about 90 million years ago. While subduction direction changed it remained oblique (and not perpendicular) to the coast of South America, and the direction change affected several subduction zone-parallel faults including Atacama, Domeyko and Liquiñe-Ofqui.
The Indian subcontinent began to collide with Asia circa 1,400 km (870 mi) of crust has been absorbed by the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen. During the Cenozoic the orogen resulted in the construction of the Tibetan Plateau between the Tethyan Himalayas in the south and the Kunlun and Qilian mountains in the north., since which more than
Later, South America was connected to North America via the Isthmus of Panama, cutting off a circulation of warm water and thereby making the Arctic colder,as well as allowing the Great American Interchange.
The breakup of Gondwana can be said to continue in eastern Africa at the Afar Triple Junction, which separates the Arabian, Nubian, and Somali plates, resulting in rifting in the Red Sea and East African Rift.
In the Early Cenozoic Australia was still connected to Antarctica c. 35–40° south of its current location and both continents were largely unglaciated. A rift between the two developed but remained an embayment until the Eocene-Oligocene boundary when the Circumpolar Current developed and the glaciation of Antarctica began.
Australia was warm and wet during the Palaeocene and dominated by rainforest. The opening of the Tasman Gateway at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary () resulted in abrupt cooling but the Oligocene became a period of high rainfall with swamps in southeast Australia. During the Miocene a warm and humid climate developed with pockets of rainforests in central Australia but before the end of the period colder and drier climate severely reduced this rainforest. A brief period of increased rainfall in the Pliocene was followed by drier climate which favoured grassland. Since then the fluctuation between wet interglacial periods and dry glacial periods has developed into the present arid regime. Australia has thus experienced various climate changes over a 15 million year period with a gradual decrease in precipitation.
The Tasman Gateway between Australia and Antarctica began to open c.. Palaeontological evidences indicate the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) was established in the Late Oligocene c. with the full opening of the Drake Passage and the deepening of the Tasman Gateway. The oldest oceanic crust in the Drake Passage, however, is -old which indicates spreading between the Antarctic and South American plates began near the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. Deep sea environments in Tierra del Fuego and the North Scotia Ridge during the Eocene and Oligocene indicate a "Proto-ACC" opened during this period. Later, , a series of events severally restricted the Proto-ACC: change to shallow marine conditions along the North Scotia Ridge; closure of the Fuegan Seaway, the deep sea that existed in Tierra del Fuego; and uplift of the Patagonian Cordillera. This, together with the reactivated Iceland plume, contributed to global warming. During the Miocene, the Drake Passage began to widen and as water flow between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula increased, the renewed ACC resulted in cooler global climate.
Since the Eocene the northward movement of the Australian Plate has resulted in an arc-continent collision with the Philippine and Caroline plates and the uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.From the Oligocene to the late Miocene, the climate in Australia, dominated by warm and humid rainforests before this collision, began to alternate between open forest and rainforest before the continent became the arid or semiarid landscape it is today.
The adjective "Gondwanan" is in common use in biogeography when referring to patterns of distribution of living organisms, typically when the organisms are restricted to two or more of the now-discontinuous regions that were once part of Gondwana, including the Antarctic flora.For example, the plant family Proteaceae, known from all continents in the Southern Hemisphere, has a "Gondwanan distribution" and is often described as an archaic, or relict, lineage. The distributions in Proteaceae is, nevertheless, the result of both Gondwanan rafting and later oceanic dispersal.
During the Silurian Gondwana extended from the Equator (Australia) to the South Pole (North Africa and South America) whilst Laurasia was located on the Equator opposite to Australia. A short-lived Late Ordovician glaciation was followed by a Silurian Hot House period.The End-Ordovician extinction, which resulted in 27% of marine invertebrate families and 57% of genera going extinct, occurred during this shift from Ice House to Hot House.
By the end of the Ordovician Cooksonia , a slender, ground-covering plant, became the first vascular plant to establish itself on land. This first colonisation occurred exclusively around the Equator on landmasses then limited to Laurasia and, in Gondwana, to Australia. In the Late Silurian two distinctive linages, zosterophylls and rhyniophytes, had colonised the tropics. The former evolved into the lycopods, that were to dominate the Gondwanan vegetation over a long period, whilst the latter evolved into horsetails and gymnosperms. Most of Gondwana was located far from the Equator during this period and remained a lifeless and barren landscape.
West Gondwana drifted north during the Devonian which brought Gondwana and Laurasia close together. Global cooling contributed to the Late Devonian extinction (19% of marine families and 50% of genera went extinct) and glaciation occurred in South America. Before Pangaea had formed terrestrial plants, such as pteridophytes, began to diversify rapidly resulting in the colonisation of Gondwana. The Baragwanathia Flora, found only in the Yea Beds of Victoria, Australia, occurs in two strata separated by 1,700 m (5,600 ft) or 30 Ma; the upper assemblage is more diverse and includes Baragwanathia, the first primitive herbaceous lycopod to evolve from the zosterophylls. During the Devonian giant club mosses replaced the Baragwanathia Flora, introducing the first trees, and by the Late Devonian this first forest was accompanied by the progymnosperms, including the first large trees Archaeopteris . The Late Devonian extinction probably also resulted in osteolepiform fishes evolving into the amphibian tetrapods, the earliest land vertebrates, in Greenland and Russia. The only traces of this evolution in Gondwana are amphibian footprints and a single jaw from Australia.
The closure of the Rheic Ocean and the formation of Pangaea in the Carboniferous resulted in the rerouting of ocean currents which initiated an Ice House period. As Gondwana began to rotate clockwise, Australia shifted south to more temperate latitudes. An ice cap initially covered most of southern Africa and South America but began to spread to eventually cover most of the supercontinent, save for northern-most Africa-South America and eastern Australia. Giant lycopod and horsetail forests continued to evolve in tropical Laurasia together with a diversified assemblage of true insects. In Gondwana, in contrast, ice and, in Australia, volcanism decimated the Devonian flora to a low-diversity seed fern flora – the pteridophytes were increasingly replaced by the gymnosperms which were to dominate until the Mid-Cretaceous. Australia, however, was still located near the Equator during the Early Carboniferous and during this period temnospondyl and lepospondyl amphibians and the first amniote reptilians evolved, all closely related to the Laurasian fauna, but spreading ice eventually drove these animals away from Gondwana entirely.
The Gondwana ice sheet melted and sea levels dropped during the Permian and Triassic global warming. During this period, the extinct glossopterids colonised Gondwana and reached peak diversity in the Late Permian when coal-forming forests covered much of Gondwana. The period also saw the evolution of Voltziales; one of the few plant orders to survive the end-Permian extinction (57% of marine families and 83% of genera went extinct) which came to dominate in the Late Permian and from whom true conifers evolved. Tall lycopods and horsetails dominated the wetlands of Gondwana in the Early Permian. Insects co-evolved with glossopterids across Gondwana and diversified with more than 200 species in 21 orders by the Late Permian, many known from South Africa and Australia. Beetles and cockroaches remained minor elements in this fauna. Tetrapod fossils from the Early Permian have only been found in Laurasia but they became common in Gondwana later during the Permian. The arrival of the therapsids resulted in the first plant-vertebrate-insect ecosystem.
During the Mid- to Late Triassic, hot house conditions coincided with a peak in biodiversity — the end-Permian extinction was enormous and so was the radiation that followed. Two families of conifers, Podocarpaceae and Araucariaceae, dominated Gondwana in the Early Triassic, but Dicroidium , an extinct genus of fork-leaved seed ferns, dominated woodlands and forests of Gondwana during most of the Triassic. Conifers evolved and radiated during the period, with six of eight extant families already present before the end of it. Bennettitales and Pentoxylales, two now extinct orders of gymnospermous plants, evolved in the Late Triassic and became important in the Jurassic and Cretaceous. It is possible that gymnosperm biodiversity surpassed later angiosperm biodiversity and that the evolution of angiosperms began during the Triassic but, if so, in Laurasia rather than in Gondwana. Two Gondwanan classes, lycophytes and sphenophytes, saw a gradual decline during the Triassic while ferns, though never dominant, managed to diversify.
The brief period of ice house conditions during the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event had a dramatic impact on dinosaurs but left plants largely unaffected. The Jurassic was mostly one of hot house conditions and, while vertebrates managed to diversify in this environment, plants have left little evidence of such development, with the exception of Cheiroleidiacean conifers and Caytoniales and other groups of seed ferns. In terms of biomass, the Jurassic flora was dominated by conifer families and other gymnosperms that had evolved during the Triassic. The Pteridophytes, that had dominated during the Palaeozoic, were now marginalised, except for ferns. In contrast to Laurentia, very few insect fossils have been found in Gondwana, to a large extent because of widespread deserts and volcanism. While plants had a cosmopolitan distribution, dinosaurs evolved and diversified in a pattern that reflects the Jurassic break-up of Panagaea.
The Cretaceous saw the arrival of the angiosperms, or flowering plants, a group that probably evolved in western Gondwana (South America-Africa). From there the angiosperms diversified in two stages: the monocots and magnoliids evolved in the Early Cretaceous, followed by the hammamelid dicots. By the Mid-Cretaceous, angiosperms constituted half of the flora in northeastern Australia. There is, however, no obvious connection between this spectacular angiosperm radiation and any known extinction event nor with vertebrate/insect evolution. Insect orders associated with pollination, such as beetles, flies, butterflies and moths, and wasps, bees, and ants, radiated continuously from the Permian-Triassic, long before the arrival of the angiosperms. Well-preserved insect fossils have been found in the lake deposits of the Santana Formation in Brazil, the Koonwarra Lake fauna in Australia, and the Orapa diamond mine in Botswana.
Dinosaurs continued to prosper but, as the angiosperm diversified, conifers, bennettitaleans and pentoxylaleans disappeared from Gondwana c. 115 Ma together with the specialised herbivorous ornithischians, whilst generalist browsers, such as several families of sauropodomorph Saurischia, prevailed. The Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event killed off all dinosaurs except birds, but plant evolution in Gondwana was hardly affected. Gondwanatheria is an extinct group of non-therian mammals with a Gondwanan distribution (South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, and Antarctica) during the Late Cretaceous and Palaeogene. Xenarthra and Afrotheria, two placental clades, are of Gondwanan origin and probably began to evolve separately c. when Africa and South America separated.
The laurel forests of Australia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand have a number of species related to those of the laurissilva of Valdivia, through the connection of the Antarctic flora. These include gymnosperms and the deciduous species of Nothofagus, as well as the New Zealand laurel, Corynocarpus laevigatus , and Laurelia novae-zelandiae . New Caledonia and New Zealand became separated from Australia by continental drift 85 million years ago. The islands still retain plants that originated in Gondwana and spread to the Southern Hemisphere continents later. However, strong evidence exists of glaciation during the Carboniferous to Permian time, especially in South Africa.[ citation needed ]
The Mesozoic Era is an interval of geological time from about. It is also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers.
The Tethys Ocean, also called the Tethys Sea or the Neotethys, was an ocean during much of the Mesozoic Era located between the ancient continents of Gondwana and Laurasia, before the opening of the Indian and Atlantic oceans during the Cretaceous Period.
Panthalassa, also known as the Panthalassic Ocean or Panthalassan Ocean, was the superocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea. During the Paleozoic–Mesozoic transition c. 250 Ma it occupied almost 70% of Earth's surface. Its ocean floor has completely disappeared because of the continuous subduction along the continental margins on its circumference. Panthalassa is also referred to as the Paleo-Pacific or Proto-Pacific because the Pacific Ocean developed from its centre in the Mesozoic to the present.
Pannotia, also known as Vendian supercontinent, Greater Gondwana, and the Pan-African supercontinent, was a relatively short-lived Neoproterozoic supercontinent that formed at the end of the Precambrian during the Pan-African orogeny and broke apart 560 Ma with the opening of the Iapetus Ocean. Pannotia formed when Laurentia was located adjacent to the two major South American cratons, Amazonia and Río de la Plata. The opening of the Iapetus Ocean separated Laurentia from Baltica, Amazonia, and Río de la Plata.
Euramerica was a minor supercontinent created in the Devonian as the result of a collision between the Laurentian, Baltica, and Avalonia cratons during the Caledonian orogeny, about 410 million years ago. In the Late Carboniferous, tropical rainforests lay over the equator of Euramerica. A major, abrupt change in vegetation occurred when the climate aridified. The forest fragmented and the lycopsids which dominated these wetlands thinned out, being replaced by opportunistic ferns. There was also a great loss of amphibian diversity and simultaneously the drier climate spurred the diversification of reptiles.
Avalonia was a microcontinent in the Paleozoic era. Crustal fragments of this former microcontinent underlie south-west Great Britain, southern Ireland, and the eastern coast of North America. It is the source of many of the older rocks of Western Europe, Atlantic Canada, and parts of the coastal United States. Avalonia is named for the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.
The Variscan or Hercynianorogeny is a geologic mountain-building event caused by Late Paleozoic continental collision between Euramerica (Laurussia) and Gondwana to form the supercontinent of Pangaea.
The Rheic Ocean was an ocean which separated two major palaeocontinents, Gondwana and Laurussia (Laurentia-Baltica-Avalonia). One of the principal oceans of the Palaeozoic, its sutures today stretch 10,000 km (6,200 mi) from Mexico to Turkey and its closure resulted in the assembly of the supercontinent Pangaea and the formation of the Variscan–Alleghenian–Ouachita orogenies.
The geology of Australia includes virtually all known rock types and from all geological time periods spanning over 3.8 billion years of the Earth's history. Australia is a continent situated on the Indo-Australian Plate.
The Paleo-Tethys or Palaeo-Tethys Ocean was an ocean located along the northern margin of the paleocontinent Gondwana that started to open during the Middle Cambrian, grew throughout the Paleozoic, and finally closed during the Late Triassic; existing for about 400 million years.
Cimmeria was an ancient continent, or, rather, a string of microcontinents or terranes, that rifted from Gondwana in the Southern Hemisphere and was accreted to Eurasia in the Northern Hemisphere. It consisted of parts of what is today Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, Shan–Thai, and Malay Peninsula. Cimmeria rifted from the Gondwanan shores of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean during the Carboniferous-earliest Permian and as the Neo-Tethys Ocean opened behind it, during the Permian, the Paleo-Tethys closed in front of it. Cimmeria rifted off Gondwana from east to west, from Australia to the eastern Mediterranean. It stretched across several latitudes and spanned a wide range of climatic zones.
The geological history of Earth follows the major events in Earth's past based on the geological time scale, a system of chronological measurement based on the study of the planet's rock layers (stratigraphy). Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula, a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun, which also created the rest of the Solar System.
Pangaea or Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It assembled from earlier continental units approximately 335 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. In contrast to the present Earth and its distribution of continental mass, much of Pangaea was in the southern hemisphere and surrounded by a superocean, Panthalassa. Pangaea was the most recent supercontinent to have existed and the first to be reconstructed by geologists.
A paleocontinent or palaeocontinent is a distinct area of continental crust that existed as a major landmass in the geological past. There have been many different landmasses throughout Earth’s time. They range in sizes, some are just a collection of small microcontinents while others are large conglomerates of crust. As time progresses and sea levels rise and fall more crust can be exposed making way for larger landmasses. The continents of the past shaped the evolution of organisms on Earth and contributed to the climate of the globe as well. As land masses break apart, species are separated and those that were once the same now have evolved to their new climate. The constant movement of these landmasses greatly determines the distribution of organisms on the Earth's surface. This is evident with how similar fossils are found on completely separate continents. Also, as continents move, mountain building events (orogenies) occur, causing a shift in the global climate as new rock is exposed and then there is more exposed rock at higher elevations. This causes glacial ice expansion and an overall cooler global climate. Which effects the overall global climate trend of the Earth. The movement of the continents greatly affects the overall dispersal of organisms throughout the world and the trend in climate throughout the Earth’s history. Examples include Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia, which collided together during the Caledonian orogeny to form the Old Red Sandstone paleocontinent of Laurussia. Another example includes a collision that occurred during the late Pennsylvanian and early Permian time when there was a collision between the two continents of Tarimsky and Kirghiz-Kazakh. This collision was caused because of their askew convergence when the paleoceanic basin closed.
The Shan–Thai or Sibumasu Terrane is a mass of continental crust extending from Tibet into Southeast Asia sharing a similar geological history. The Shan–Thai Terrane rifted from Australia in the Permian and collided with the Indochina terrane in the Triassic. It extends from Malaysia, through peninsular Thailand, Myanmar, West Yunnan, to Lhasa.
The Antarctic Peninsula, roughly 650 miles south of South America, is the northernmost portion of the continent of Antarctica. Like the associated Andes, the Antarctic Peninsula is an excellent example of ocean-continent collision resulting in subduction. The peninsula has experienced continuous subduction for over 200 million years, but changes in continental configurations during the amalgamation and breakup of continents have changed the orientation of the peninsula itself, as well as the underlying volcanic rocks associated with the subduction zone.
The East Antarctic Shield or Craton is a cratonic rock body that covers 10.2 million square kilometers or roughly 73% of the continent of Antarctica. The shield is almost entirely buried by the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that has an average thickness of 2200 meters but reaches up to 4700 meters in some locations. East Antarctica is separated from West Antarctica by the 100–300 kilometer wide Transantarctic Mountains, which span nearly 3,500 kilometers from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. The East Antarctic Shield is then divided into an extensive central craton that occupies most of the continental interior and various other marginal cratons that are exposed along the coast.
The Lhasa terrane is a terrane, or fragment of crustal material, sutured to the Eurasian Plate during the Cretaceous that forms present-day southern Tibet. It takes its name from the city of Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China. The northern part may have originated in the East African Orogeny, while the southern part appears to have once been part of Australia. The two parts joined, were later attached to Asia, and then were impacted by the collision of the Indian Plate that formed the Himalayas.
Cathaysia was a microcontinent or a group of terranes that rifted off Gondwana during the Late Paleozoic.
Patagonia comprises the southernmost region of South America, portions of which lie either side of the Chile–Argentina border. It has traditionally been described as the region south of the Rio Colorado, although the physiographic border has more recently been moved southward to the Huincul fault. The region's geologic border to the north is composed of the Rio de la Plata craton and several accreted terranes comprising the La Pampa province. The underlying basement rocks of the Patagonian region can be subdivided into two large massifs: the North Patagonian Massif and the Deseado Massif. These massifs are surrounded by sedimentary basins formed in the Mesozoic that underwent subsequent deformation during the Andean orogeny. Patagonia is known for their vast earthqaukes and the damage.