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The role of megacontinents in the supercontinent cycle

Wang Chong, Ross N. Mitchell, J. Brendan Murphy, Peng Peng and Christopher J. Spencer
The role of megacontinents in the supercontinent cycle
Geology (Boulder) (November 2020) Pre-Issue Publication


Supercontinent Pangea was preceded by the formation of Gondwana, a "megacontinent" about half the size of Pangea. There is much debate, however, over what role the assembly of the precursor megacontinent played in the Pangean supercontinent cycle. Here we demonstrate that the past three cycles of supercontinent amalgamation were each preceded by approximately 200 m.y. by the assembly of a megacontinent akin to Gondwana, and that the building of a megacontinent is a geodynamically important precursor to supercontinent amalgamation. The recent assembly of Eurasia is considered as a fourth megacontinent associated with future supercontinent Amasia. We use constraints from seismology of the deep mantle for Eurasia and paleogeography for Gondwana to develop a geodynamic model for megacontinent assembly and subsequent supercontinent amalgamation. As a supercontinent breaks up, a megacontinent assembles along the subduction girdle that encircled it, at a specific location where the downwelling is most intense. The megacontinent then migrates along the girdle where it collides with other continents to form a supercontinent. The geometry of this model is consistent with the kinematic transitions from Rodinia to Gondwana to Pangea.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: Pre-Issue Publication
Title: The role of megacontinents in the supercontinent cycle
Affiliation: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Beijing, China
Published: 20201125
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 35
Accession Number: 2021-005278
Categories: Solid-earth geophysics
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch maps
Secondary Affiliation: Saint Francis Xavier University, CAN, CanadaQueen's University, CAN, Canada
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2021, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 202102
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