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Gondwana, though extant for approximately one-half billion years, is now present as fragments across much of the globe. Following an assembly during the latest Protero zoic into the early Phanerozoic, the megacontinent has gradually fragmented to its current dispersed pattern. Paleozoic fragmentation, primarily on its north and west margins, formed a series of ribbon-shaped continents that collided with southern Laurasia and generated major orogenic events. Meanwhile, much of its southern and eastern margin was the site of subduction and associated Cordilleran-style tectonics. Mesozoic and Paleogene rifting completed the fragmentation, sending continents northward to generate the Alpine-Himalayan mountain chain from Spain to China.

Much of Gondwana flirted with the South Pole throughout the Paleozoic, and several major glacial episodes resulted. The largest and most extensive of these was the late Paleozoic ice age; the consequences of this event dominated global geology for nearly 100 m.y. and orchestrated the greatest cyclic stratigraphic record in Phanerozoic history.

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