Did the Breakout of Laurentia Turn Gondwanaland Inside-Out?

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Science  07 Jun 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5011, pp. 1409-1412
DOI: 10.1126/science.252.5011.1409


Comparative geology suggests that the continents adjacent to northern, western, southern, and eastern Laurentia in the Late Proterozoic were Siberia, Australia-Antarctica, southern Africa, and Amazonia-Baltica, respectively. Late Proterozoic fragmentation of the supercontinent centered on Laurentia would then have been followed by rapid fan-like collapse of the (present) southern continents and eventual consolidation of East and West Gondwanaland. In this scenario, a pole of rotation near the Weddell Sea would explain the observed dominance of wrench tectonics in (present) east-west trending Pan-African mobile belts and subduction-accretion tectonics in north-south trending belts. In the process of fragmentation, rifts originating in the interior of the Late Proterozoic supercontinent became the external margins of Paleozoic Gondwanaland; exterior margins of the Late Proterozoic supercontinent became landlocked within the interior of Gondwanaland.

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