Skip to Content

Precambrian Supercontinents - A Paleomagnetic View

The importance of supercontinents in our understanding of the geological evolution of the Earth has been widely discussed. Geological processes linked to the supercontinent formation include mantle superplume events, fragmentation of continental dyke swarms, low latitude glaciations, the "Snowball Earth" - hypothesis, the high-obliquity concept, carbon isotope excursions, truncations of tectonic belts and major rifts, matching of orogenic belts and peaked age distributions of geological events. Two supercontinent assemblies (Pangaea 350-165 Ma, Gondwanaland 550-400 Ma) have existed since the Neoproterozic. These younger assemblies have been constructed by sea floor magnetic data and by palaeomagnetic and biostratigraphic results, supported by geology. The consequences of supercontinents on geological evolution of the Earth have led people to look for pre-Gonwana supercontinents. Palaeomagnetism, coupled with precise isotope age data, is the only method which provides direct knowledge of ancient latitudes of continents. Nevertheless, its role in many previous reconstructions has been limited.