Taxonomy term

supercontinent

Frogs fill in post-Gondwana picture

The positions of landmasses after the breakup of Gondwana during the late Mesozoic and early Paleogene are highly debated, especially the configurations of the Indian and Australian plates around the newly opening Indian Ocean. In a new study, the paleogeographic and genetic distributions of a group of frogs called Natatanurans were used to test the various post-breakup models — and the results bring additional clarity to the post-Gondwana puzzle.

22 Mar 2019

Ocean tide size linked to supercontinent cycle

Daily tides are driven primarily by Earth’s rotation and the gravitational force of the moon on oceans. However, in a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers suggest that tidal magnitudes are also influenced, on longer timescales, by the size and shape of the ocean basins, and are therefore driven by plate tectonics.

07 Sep 2018

Piecing together the puzzle of Pannotia

Earth’s landmasses have joined together into supercontinents and then split apart again as many as six times in the planet’s history. 

31 Jul 2018

Breakup of Pangea led to thicker oceanic crust

Oceanic crust formed at mid-ocean spreading centers, like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is recycled back into the mantle at subduction zones. Aside from isolated chunks that might be even older, the oldest crust found on Earth today is thought to be about 200 million years old. This old crust, portions of which are found along the outer margins of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, is much thicker than the crust being produced today — in some places by almost 2 kilometers — according to a new study, a finding that may suggest that Earth’s supercontinent cycle affects how Earth’s interior cools.

07 Apr 2017

Rethinking Pangea? Ancient ocean crust challenges supercontinent theory

The oldest piece of undisturbed oceanic crust ever discovered has been found beneath the eastern Mediterranean Sea, hidden under more than 10 kilometers of sediment. This ancient crust — estimated at up to 100 million years older than the oldest oceanic crust previously known — could reshape our view of global tectonics and the supercontinent cycle.

21 Dec 2016

Chemical clues reveal ancient geography

Reconstructing the history of supercontinents requires careful detective work. A variety of geological processes wipes the evidence clean, like a burglar who smears away his fingerprints. Yet even the most cautious criminals leave clues behind — and so do supercontinents.

07 Oct 2009