Pannotia

Pannotia

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Pannotia'
Start a new discussion about 'Pannotia'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

Pannotia, first described by Ian W. D. Dalziel in 1997, is a hypothetical supercontinent
Supercontinent
In geology, a supercontinent is a landmass comprising more than one continental core, or craton. The assembly of cratons and accreted terranes that form Eurasia qualifies as a supercontinent today.-History:...

 that existed from the Pan-African orogeny
Pan-African orogeny
The Pan-African orogeny was a series of major Neoproterozoic orogenic events which related to the formation of the supercontinents Gondwana and Pannotia about 600 million years ago....

 about six hundred million years ago to the end of the Precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

 about five hundred and fifty million years ago. It is also known as the Vendian supercontinent. After that, it split into the islands of Laurentia, Siberia and Baltica, with the main landmass, Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

, south of it.

Formation


About 750 million years ago (750 Ma), the previous supercontinent Rodinia
Rodinia
In geology, Rodinia is the name of a supercontinent, a continent which contained most or all of Earth's landmass. According to plate tectonic reconstructions, Rodinia existed between 1.1 billion and 750 million years ago, in the Neoproterozoic era...

 rift
Rift
In geology, a rift or chasm is a place where the Earth's crust and lithosphere are being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics....

ed apart into three continents: Proto-Laurasia (which broke apart and eventually re-formed as Laurasia
Laurasia
In paleogeography, Laurasia was the northernmost of two supercontinents that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent from approximately...

), the continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

al craton
Craton
A craton is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere. Having often survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, cratons are generally found in the interiors of tectonic plates. They are characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock, which may be covered by...

 of Congo
Congo craton
The Congo craton, covered by the Palaeozoic-to-recent Congo basin, is an ancient Precambrian craton that with four others makes up the modern continent of Africa. These cratons were formed between about 3.6 and 2.0 billion years ago and have been tectonically stable since that time...

, and Proto-Gondwana (all of Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

 except the Congo craton and Atlantica
Atlantica
Atlantica is the name given to an ancient continent that formed during the Proterozoic about from various 2 Ga cratons located in what is now West Africa and eastern South America....

).

Proto-Laurasia rotated southward toward the South Pole
South Pole
The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole...

. Proto-Gondwana rotated counterclockwise. The Congo craton
Craton
A craton is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere. Having often survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, cratons are generally found in the interiors of tectonic plates. They are characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock, which may be covered by...

 came between Proto-Gondwana and Proto-Laurasia about 600 Ma. This formed Pannotia. With so much landmass around the poles, evidence suggests that there were more glaciers during this time than at any other time in geologic history
Geologic time scale
The geologic time scale provides a system of chronologic measurement relating stratigraphy to time that is used by geologists, paleontologists and other earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred during the history of the Earth...

.

Geography and lifespan


Pannotia looked like a V that faced northeast. Inside the V was an ocean that opened up during the break-up of Rodinia
Rodinia
In geology, Rodinia is the name of a supercontinent, a continent which contained most or all of Earth's landmass. According to plate tectonic reconstructions, Rodinia existed between 1.1 billion and 750 million years ago, in the Neoproterozoic era...

, the Panthalassic Ocean, an ocean that became the early Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. There was a mid-ocean ridge
Mid-ocean ridge
A mid-ocean ridge is a general term for an underwater mountain system that consists of various mountain ranges , typically having a valley known as a rift running along its spine, formed by plate tectonics. This type of oceanic ridge is characteristic of what is known as an oceanic spreading...

 in the middle of the Panthalassic Ocean. Outside of the V was a very large ancient ocean called the Panafrican Ocean that may have surrounded Pannotia, equivalent to the future Panthalassic Ocean.

Pannotia was short-lived. The collisions that formed Pannotia were glancing collisions, and the continents composing Pannotia already had active rifting. By about 540 Ma, or only about 60 million years after Pannotia formed, Pannotia disintegrated into four continents: Laurentia
Laurentia
Laurentia is a large area of continental craton, which forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent...

, Baltica
Baltica
Baltica is a name applied by geologists to a late-Proterozoic, early-Palaeozoic continent that now includes the East European craton of northwestern Eurasia. Baltica was created as an entity not earlier than 1.8 billion years ago. Before this time, the three segments/continents that now comprise...

, Siberia
Siberia (continent)
Siberia is the craton located in the heart of the region of Siberia. Siberia or "Angaraland" is today the Central Siberian Plateau...

 and Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

. Later, altered landmasses would recombine to form the most recent supercontinent, Pangaea
Pangaea
Pangaea, Pangæa, or Pangea is hypothesized as a supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, before the component continents were separated into their current configuration....

.

Another term for the supercontinent that is thought to have existed at the end of Neoproterozoic
Neoproterozoic
The Neoproterozoic Era is the unit of geologic time from 1,000 to 542.0 ± 1.0 million years ago. The terminal Era of the formal Proterozoic Eon , it is further subdivided into the Tonian, Cryogenian, and Ediacaran Periods...

 time is "Greater Gondwanaland", suggested by Stern in 1994. This term recognizes that the supercontinent of Gondwana, which formed at the end of the Neoproterozoic, was once part of the much larger end-Neoproterozoic supercontinent.

External links

  • An image showing Pannotia according to Christopher Scotese
    Christopher Scotese
    Christopher R. Scotese is geologist at the University of Texas at Arlington. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1985. He is creator of the Paleomap Project, which aims to map Earth over the last billion years, and is credited with predicting Pangaea Ultima, a possible future...

    . (it is referred to as the late Precambrian
    Precambrian
    The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

    Supercontinent in the image
    ).