History

Continent History How It Separated

The theory has unified and enabled many branches of the earth sciences, from the study of fossils (paleontology) to the study of earthquakes (seismology), to collaborate in the study of the Earth.Of the various landmasses that formed Pangaea, Gondwanaland was by far the most significant. Having formed relatively late in the Precambrian era (2.3 billion years ago), Gondwanaland was a super-continent in its own right at the beginning of the Paleozoic era, 543 million years ago (Palmer amp. Geissman, 2002). It was positioned in what is now the South Pacific Ocean and extended from the equator to the South Pole. Also present during this time period, Laurentia, a small continent that lay on the equator was separate from Gondwanaland and later developed considerably to become North America. Baltica, another small continent that now comprises a major portion of Europe lay well off to the east of Laurentia. The southern tip of Baltica forms what is now the Iberian Peninsula. Another portion now comprises Belarus and European Russia. Various other continental masses, most of which are now fused to form regions of Asia, were spread out in places unknown. There is no credible evidence that the Rocky Mountains or Alaska were attached to the continent of Laurentia although some evidence suggests that they may not have been (Blanchard, 1998).The continents of Laurentia and Baltica collided around 460 million years ago, during the Ordovician period. The first contact occurred when the southernmost of the islands off the southern peninsula of Baltica, west of present Portugal, collided with what is now western New York State. This resulted in the Taconic actions which produced the mountains, of that same name, located west of the Hudson River. Baltica’s island arc was what are now the New England States and most of the eastern provinces of Canada at this time.

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