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Book Chapter

The Palaeozoic palaeogeography of central Gondwana

By
Trond H. Torsvik
Trond H. Torsvik
PGP and Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1048, 0316 Oslo, NorwayGeodynamics Centre, Geological Survey of Norway, Leif Eirikssons vei 39, N-7491 Trondheim, NorwaySchool of Geosciences, University of Witwatersrand, WITS 2050, South Africa
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L. Robin M. Cocks
L. Robin M. Cocks
Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2011

Abstract

Nine new palaeogeographical maps of central Gondwana are presented at intervals within the Palaeozoic from the Middle Cambrian at 510 Ma to the end of the Permian at 250 Ma. The area covered includes all of Africa, Madagascar, India and Arabia as well as adjacent regions, including parts of southern Europe, much of South America (including the Falkland Isles) and Antarctica. After final assembly in the Late Neoproterozoic the southern margin was largely passive throughout the Palaeozoic, apart from some local orogeny in the Cambrian in the final stages of the largely Neoproterozoic Pan-African Orogeny and during the Late Palaeozoic Gondwanide Orogeny. The northern peri-Gondwana margin was active during the Early Palaeozoic but the NW part became passive by the earliest Ordovician when the Rheic Ocean opened between Gondwana and Avalonia. This was eventually followed by the latest Silurian or Early Devonian opening of the Palaeotethys Ocean between Gondwana and Iberia, Armorica and associated terranes and, much later, the rifting and opening of the Neotethys Ocean near the close of the Permian. In the Late Carboniferous, Gondwana merged with Laurussia to form Pangea. That accretion took place outside the area to the NW, although the consequent orogenic activity extended to Morocco and Algeria. Most of the centre of Gondwana was land throughout the Palaeozoic but with extensive shelf seas over the craton margins, particularly the northern margin from the Cambrian to the Devonian on which the important north African and Arabian hydrocarbon source rocks were deposited in the Lower Silurian (with the chief reservoirs in the adjacent Upper Ordovician) and Upper Devonian. There were also substantial Upper Carboniferous and later non-marine lake basins in central and southern Africa in which the Karroo Supergroup was deposited. The South Pole was located within the area from the Early Palaeozoic to the Mid-Permian and central Gondwana was therefore greatly affected by two ice ages: the short but sharp Hirnantian glaciation at the end of the Ordovician and another lasting sporadically for more than 25 Ma during the later Carboniferous and Early Permian.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

The Formation and Evolution of Africa: A Synopsis of 3.8 Ga of Earth History

D. J. J. Van Hinsbergen
D. J. J. Van Hinsbergen
University of Oslo, Norway
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S. J. H. Buiter
S. J. H. Buiter
Geological Survey of Norway
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T. H. Torsvik
T. H. Torsvik
University of Oslo
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C. Gaina
C. Gaina
Geological Survey of Norway
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S. J. Webb
S. J. Webb
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
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Geological Society of London
Volume
357
ISBN electronic:
9781862396050
Publication date:
January 01, 2011

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