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Abstract

Early during the twentieth Century, pioneering correlations between the Palaeozoic–Mesozoic basins of South America and southern Africa were used by Alexander du Toit to support the initial concepts of continental drift and the proposal of a united Gondwana continent. New stratigraphic tools and data can now be used to further tease out similarities and differences to reconstruct the detailed histories of these, the Paraná and Cape–Karoo basins. In turn this knowledge can be used also to increase our understanding of the origin and evolution of Gondwana. Recent advances in tectonics and stratigraphy showed that both basins evolved together along a common early Palaeozoic Gondwana margin facing the Panthalassa. Thereafter, this margin was transformed into a series of linked foreland basins coupled to the evolution of the Gondwanides. In detail, the foreland successions differ considerably due to spatial and temporal differences in tectonic histories along the Gondwanides. Only towards the end of the Palaeozoic did both basins evolve and merge into a single continental-scale, and truly intracratonic, terrestrial Gondwana basin that persisted until the early Cretaceous. This shared history was once again disrupted in the Early Cretaceous during the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean.

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