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Mesozoic Plate Tectonics

Supercontinents break apart by continental rifting, and caused the breakup of Pangaea along with the formation of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Credit: Massimo Pietrobon
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pangea_political.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Pangaea came together during the Paleozoic and has been breaking up since the Mesozoic. The supercontinent was the most recent.

Why It Matters

  • Pangaea formed around 300 million years ago and began to break apart around 200 million years ago.
  • While Pangaea was together, there was one giant ocean called Panthalassa.
  • Geological evidence exists for the continents coming together on each of these continents.
  • Distribution of fossils provides evidence for the existance of Pangaea.
  • Credit: Osvaldocangaspadilla
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Snider-Pellegrini_Wegener_fossil_map.svg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Fossils found across continents provides evidence for Pangaea [Figure2]

  • There is also evidence for the supercontinent rifting apart.

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about Pangaea. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Why do supercontinents come together?
  2. What type of plate boundaries are there where continents are coming together?
  3. What evidence would we see now that these continents had once smashed together?
  4. What happens when a supercontinent breaks apart?
  5. What causes heat in Earth’s interior?
  6. Why do supercontinents break apart?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Massimo Pietrobon; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pangea_political.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Osvaldocangaspadilla; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Snider-Pellegrini_Wegener_fossil_map.svg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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