Abstract

The supercontinent Pangea formed by the subduction of the Iapetus and Rheic oceans between Gondwana, Laurentia, and Baltica during mid-to-late Paleozoic times. However, there remains much debate regarding how this amalgamation was achieved. Most paleogeographic models based on paleomagnetic data argue that the juxtaposition of Gondwana and Laurussia (Laurentia-Baltica) was achieved via long-lasting highly oblique convergence in the late Paleozoic. In contrast, many geology-based reconstructions suggest that the collision between the two continents was likely initiated via a Gondwanan promontory comprising the Iberian, Armorican, and Bohemian massifs, and parts of the basement units in the Alpine orogen during the Early Devonian. To help resolve this discrepancy, we present an updated compilation of high-quality paleopoles of mid-to-late Paleozoic ages (spanning Middle Ordovician and Carboniferous times) from Gondwana, Laurentia, and Baltica. These paleopoles were evaluated with the Van der Voo selection criteria, corrected for inclination error where necessary, and were used to revise their apparent polar wander (APW) paths. The revised APW paths were constructed using an innovative approach in which age errors, A95 ovals, and Q-factors of individual paleopoles are taken into account. By combining the resulting APW paths with existing geological data and field relationships in the European Variscides, we provide mid-to-late Paleozoic paleogeographic reconstructions which indicate that the formation of Pangea was likely initiated at 400 Ma via the collision between Laurussia and a ribbon-like Gondwanan promontory that was itself formed by a scissor-like opening of the Paleotethys Ocean, and that the amalgamation culminated in the mostly orthogonal convergence between Gondwana and Laurussia.

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