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The Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian breakup of the ancient amalgamated supercontinent of Rodinia spawned a heterogeneous realignment of cratonic masses that involved the construction of the mega-terrane of Gondwana. Such reconfiguration took place from about 650 Ma, mostly via the conjunction of Australasian, Indian, Antarctic, African, South American and some Arabian crustal fragments (e.g. see Cocks & Torsvik 2002, 2006; Pankhurst & Vaughan 2009).

For much of its earliest history, Gondwana formed a non-marine heartland, straddling South Polar environments across northern South America and North Africa through the late Vendian–late Silurian (Cocks & Torsvik 2002, figs 2–8). However, around the margins of this continental core and in relatively adjacent regions, was an assortment of terranes embracing a variety of marine and non-marine environments.

This volume focuses on various aspects of the tectonic and biogeographical evolution around the Gondwanan margin and its adjacent terranes. It is the outcome of a 1 day symposium, under the same title, comprising the annual Lyell Meeting for 2007 held at The Geological Society of London, Burlington House, and organized jointly with The Palaeontological Association. Close to 100 delegates attended. There were 14 presentations at the meeting, plus one paper read in title and abstract only but which is published here in full (Benedetto et al. 2009).

Four of the papers presented at the symposium were not submitted subsequently for publication because they were scheduled for publication elsewhere. Nigel Hughes (University of California, Riverside) analysed the complex structural and faunal relationships of the Himalayan margin within

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