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Abstract

The Mid-Jurassic development of a sea-floor spreading axis in the Central Atlantic marked the onset of a new kinematic regime in the Atlantic-Tethys domain, and with this a new chapter commenced in the break-up history of Pangea.

As discussed in Chapter 5, the initial phase of the Pangea break-up, spanning Permian to Mid-Jurassic times, was governed by the southward propagation of the Arctic-North Atlantic and the westward propagation of the Tethys rift systems. It peaked in the development of the Tethys and the Central Atlantic sea-floor spreading axes that linked-up via the Western Mediterranean transform fault system. In contrast, the post-Mid-Jurassic phases of the Atlantic-Tethys plate reorganization were governed by the evolution of the Central Atlantic sea-floor spreading axis and its stepwise northward propagation; this was paralleled by the stepwise opening of the South Atlantic Ocean. The evolution of the Central Atlantic sea-floor spreading axis is suggestive of its association with a major upwelling asthenospheric convective cell that had slowly developed during the Triassic and Early Jurassic.

During the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, the progressive opening of the Central Atlantic caused a major sinistral translation between Africa and Laurasia (Olivet et al., 1984; Livermore and Smith, 1985). This was coupled with the transtensional opening of oceanic basins in the Western Mediterranean domain and a gradual closure of the Dinaric-Hellenic ocean, culminating during the earliest Cretaceous in the collision of the leading edge of the Italo-Dinarid promontory with the southern margin of Fermosarmatia (Plate 13). This collision marked the onset

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