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How Long Ago Was Pangea (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 230 to 280 million years ago

About 4.6 billion years ago, the Earth was formed. Pangea was a supercontinent that existed between 230 and 280 million years ago and disintegrated between 175 and 200 million years ago. Pangea is a term that refers to a vast piece of land, which, in principle, split into the continents we see today. In the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic, Pangea was a supercontinent.

The idea of plate tectonics was born out of the explanation for Pangaea’s origin, which states that the Earth’s outer shell is divided up into many plates that slide across the rocky mantle.

Several supercontinents have developed and broken apart during the planet’s 3.5 billion-year existence as a result of churning and circulation in the Earth’s mantle, which makes up the majority of the planet’s volume. The disintegration and development of supercontinents have had a significant impact on the planet’s history.

How Long Ago Was Pangea?

What happenedWhen it happened
Pangea230 – 280 million years ago
Discovery of Pangea480 million years

After piecing together various lines of evidence, the physicist Alfred Wegener suggested the idea of an ancient supercontinent, which he dubbed Pangaea (often written Pangea).

The continents are grouped and can be seen on any precise map. Another major clue that Earth’s continents were originally one mass may be found in the geologic record. The composition of coal deposits in Pennsylvania is comparable to that of coal deposits from the same time in Poland, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

According to this data, North America and Europe were once a single continent. The orientation of magnetic minerals in ancient deposits also reveals how the Earth’s magnetic poles shifted throughout time.

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Paleogeography is the study of historical geography or physical landscapes of Earth’s surfaces. Climate simulations show that Pangaea’s continental heartland was highly seasonal. The researchers used biological and physical data from the Moradi Formation, a layered fossil soil formation in northern Niger, to reconstruct the ecology and climate during Pangaea’s existence.

Identical plants, such as the ancient seed fern Glossopteris, have been discovered in the fossil record on continents that are presently widely apart. The Appalachian mountains in the United States and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, for example, were all part of the Central Pangaea Mountains, which were created by the colliding of the supercontinents Gondwana and Laurussia.

Pangaea was developed over a few hundred million years in a slow process. Laurentia, which included sections of North America at the time, united with several other micro-continents to become Euramerica around 480 million years ago. Gondwana, a supercontinent that includes Africa, Australia, South America, and the Indian subcontinent, finally collided with Euramerica.

The supercontinent began to fragment some 200 million years ago. Laurasia divided into Gondwana (what is now Africa, South America, Antarctica, India, and Australia) (Eurasia and North America). Then, Gondwana split out some 150 million years ago.

Climate cycles would have been considerably different if there had been only one large continent. The core of the continent, for example, may have been completely dry due to huge mountain ranges that prevented all precipitation and rainfall.

Several creatures prospered throughout Pangaea’s 100-million-year existence, including the Traversodontidae, a family of plant-eating animals that contains the progenitors of mammals.

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Why Was Pangea That Long Ago?

The continents’ present arrangement is unlikely to be permanent. Several times during Earth’s history, supercontinents have developed, only to be splintered into new continents. For example, Australia is currently edging closer to Asia, and the eastern part of Africa is steadily separating from the rest of the continent.

Every 300 to 400 million years, geologists have noted that supercontinents originate and break apart in a quasi-regular pattern. Most scientists, however, believe that circulation dynamics in the mantle are substantially responsible for the supercontinent cycle.

Whereas the heat generated in the mantle is most likely due to the radioactive decay of volatile elements like uranium, experts disagree on whether the mantle contains mini-pockets of heat flow or if the whole shell is one huge heat transport system.

Conclusion

Alfred Wegener postulated Pangea in 1912 as a hypothetical protocontinent as part of his continental drift hypothesis. Pangaea was not the first nor will it be the final supercontinent. It is well-known because the continents of today can be used to rebuild them.

Supercontinents will continue to emerge, according to scientists. The world’s continents are gradually drifting away from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and toward the Pacific Ocean’s center. In around 80 million years, they’re expected to collide.

References

  1. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/TC001i002p00179
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825204000418