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Abstract

This review discusses the thermal evolution of the mantle following large-scale tectonic activities such as continental collision and continental rifting. About 300 myr ago, continental material amalgamated through the large-scale subduction of oceanic seafloor, marking the termination of one or more oceanic basins (e.g. Wilson cycles) and the formation of the supercontinent Pangaea. The present day location of the continents is due to the rifting apart of Pangaea, with the dispersal of the supercontinent being characterized by increased volcanic activity linked to the generation of deep mantle plumes. The discussion presented here investigates theories regarding the thermal evolution of the mantle (e.g. mantle temperatures and sub-continental plumes) following the formation of a supercontinent. Rifting, orogenesis and mass eruptions from large igneous provinces change the landscape of the lithosphere, whereas processes related to the initiation and termination of oceanic subduction have a profound impact on deep mantle reservoirs and thermal upwelling through the modification of mantle flow. Upwelling and downwelling in mantle convection are dynamically linked and can influence processes from the crust to the core, placing the Wilson cycle and the evolution of oceans at the forefront of our dynamic Earth.

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