Abstract

Twenty-five years ago, initial plans for reconstructing the Rodinia supercontinent were being drafted, based on the growing recognition of correlatable mid-Neoproterozoic (0.8–0.7 Ga) rifted passive margins, many of which were established on the eroded remnants of late Mesoproterozoic (1.3–1.0 Ga) orogenic belts. The 1990s witnessed a surge of interest in Rodinia, with many regional studies of tectonostratigraphy and U-Pb geochronology generally conforming to the “inside-out” reconstruction model: juxtaposition of west Laurentia with east Australia/Antarctica, north Laurentia with Siberia, and east Laurentia with Baltica and cratons that would later form West Gondwana. This standard model of Rodinia appeared to be converging toward a solution with only minor variations by the turn of the millennium, but new paleomagnetic data and tectonostratigraphic information obtained in the succeeding decade chipped away at various aspects of the reconstruction; several cratons seemed to require exclusion from the supercontinent (thus questioning its very validity), or the landmass might have assembled much later (≤0.9 Ga) than originally envisaged (thus weakening the link to global Mesoproterozoic orogenesis). Although a consensus model of Rodinia’s assembly and fragmentation has arisen from the International Geoscience Programme Project 440 working group, the reconstruction is supported by rather sparse definitive-quality data.

As the quest for Rodinia matures to a third decade of scrutiny, the search for its predecessor Nuna (a.k.a. Hudsonland or Columbia) is only now reaching a stage of global synthesis between tectonostratigraphic and paleomagnetic data. According to most definitions, Nuna assembled at 1.9–1.75 Ga, or perhaps as late as 1.6 Ga, and fragmented during the interval 1.5–1.2 Ga. Because mafic dike swarms are ideal targets for paleomagnetic study, and because they are now amenable to routine dating by U-Pb on baddeleyite, the global abundance of Paleo-Mesoproterozoic dike swarms might make Nuna more imminently solvable than Rodinia.

Prior to the assembly of Nuna, various “supercraton” connections such as Vaalbara, Superia, and Sclavia are only beginning to take form. Unmetamorphosed, early Paleoproterozoic (2.5–2.0 Ga) mafic dike swarms are commonplace features across the interiors of Archean cratons, and their joint paleomagnetic and geochronologic study can help reassemble the cratons into their supercraton parent landmasses. Progressively older geologic times require consideration of a greater number of potentially independent terranes, each needing individual kinematic constraints. Furthermore, the initial stabilizing events of most extant cratons during Neoarchean time (3.0–2.5 Ga) therefore render global reconstructions older than that interval improbable.

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