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Pannotia was centred on the South Pole, hence its name

Pannotia (from Greek: , "all", , "south"; meaning "all southern land"), also known as the Vendian supercontinent, Greater Gondwana, and the Pan-African supercontinent, was a relatively short-lived Neoproterozoic supercontinent that formed at the end of the Precambrian during the Pan-African orogeny (650–500 Ma), during the Cryogenian period and broke apart 560 Ma with the opening of the Iapetus Ocean, in the late Ediacaran and early Cambrian. Pannotia formed when Laurentia was located adjacent to the two major South American cratons, Amazonia and RΓ­o de la Plata. The opening of the Iapetus Ocean separated Laurentia from Baltica, Amazonia, and RΓ­o de la Plata.

Origin of concept

An artist's impression of Pannotia, about 600 million years ago, in the Ediacaran period.

Piper 1976 was probably the first to propose a Proterozoic supercontinent preceding Pangaea, today known as Rodinia. At that time he simply referred to it as "the Proterozoic super-continent", but much later he named this "symmetrical crescent-shaped analogue of Pangaea" 'Palaeopangaea' and in 2000 he still insisted that there is neither a need nor any evidences for Rodinia or its daughter supercontinent Pannotia or a series of other proposed supercontinents since Archaean times.

The existence of a Late Proterozoic supercontinent, much different from Pangaea, was, nevertheless, first proposed by McWilliams 1981 based on paleomagnetic data and the break-up of this supercontinent around 625–550 Ma was documented by Bond, Nickeson & Kominz 1984. The reconstruction of Bond et al. is virtually identical to that of Dalziel 1997 and others.

Another term for the supercontinent that is thought to have existed at the end of Neoproterozoic time is "Greater Gondwanaland", recommendedby Stern 1994. This term recognizes that the supercontinent of Gondwana, which formed at the end of the Neoproterozoic, was once part of the much huge end-Neoproterozoic supercontinent.

Pannotia was named by Powell 1995, based on the term "Pannotios" originally proposed by Stump 1987 for "the cycle of tectonic activity common to the Gondwana continents that resulted in the formation of the supercontinent." Young 1995 proposed renaming the older Proterozoic supercontinent (now known as Rodinia) "Kanatia", the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word from which the name 'Canada' is derived, while keeping the name Rodinia for the latter Neoproterozoic supercontinent (now known as Pannotia). Powell, however, objected to this renaming and instead proposed Stump's term for the latter supercontinent.


Pannotia 545 Ma, view centred on the South Pole; rotated 180Β° relative to the reconstruction of Rodinia above, after Dalziel 1997

The formation of Pannotia began during the Pan-African orogeny when the Congo continent got caught between the northern and southern halves of the previous supercontinent Rodinia some 750 Ma. The peak in this mountain building happeningwas around 640–610 Ma, but these continental collisions may have continued into the Early Cambrian some 530 Ma. The formation of Pannotia was the effectof Rodinia turning itself inside out.

When Pannotia had formed, Africa was located at the centre surrounded by the rest of Gondwana: South America, Arabia, Madagascar, India, Antarctica, and Australia. Laurentia, which 'escaped' out of Rodinia, Baltica, and Siberia kept the relative positions they had in Rodinia. The Cathaysian and Cimmerian terranes (continental blocks of southern Asia) were located along the northern margins of east Gondwana. The Avalonian-Cadomian terranes (later to become central Europe, Britain, the North American east coast, and YucatΓ‘n) were located along the active northern margins of western Gondwana. This orogeny probably extended north into the Uralian margin of Baltica.

Pannotia formed by subduction of exterior oceans (a mechanism called extroversion) over a geoid low, whereas Pangaea formed by subduction of interior oceans (introversion) over a geoid high perhaps caused by superplumes and slab avalanche happening. The oceanic crust subducted by Pannotia formed within the Mirovoi superocean that surrounded Rodinia before its 830–750 Ma break-up and were accreted during the Late Proterozoic orogenies that resulted from the assembly of Pannotia.

One of the major of these orogenies was the collision between East and West Gondwana or the East African Orogeny. The Trans-Saharan Belt in West Africa is the effectof the collision between the East Saharan Shield and the West African Craton when 1200–710 Ma-old volcanic and arc-associatedrocks were accreted to the margin of this craton. 600–500 Ma two Brazilian interior orogenies got highly deformed and metamorphosed between a series of colliding cratons: Amazonia, West Africa-SΓ£o LuΓ­s, and SΓ£o Francisco-Congo-Kasai. The contentthat was accreted contain 950–850 Ma mafic meta-igneous complexes and younger arc-associatedrocks.


Pannotia formed as Proto-Laurasia was added to Gondwana c. 600 Ma (left) and broke up 550 Ma (right) when Laurasia broke apart.
View centred on the South Pole.

The break-up of Pannotia was accompanied by sea level rise, dramatic modify in climate and ocean water chemistry, and rapid metazoan diversification.

Bond, Nickeson & Kominz 1984 found Neoproterozoic passive margin sequences worldwide – the first indication of a Late Neoproterozoic supercontinent but also the traces of its demise.

The Iapetus Ocean started to open while Pannotia was being assembled, 200 Ma after the break-up of Rodinia. This opening of the Iapetus and other Cambrian seas coincided with the first steps in the evolution of soft-bodied metazoans, and also angry a myriad of habitats accessiblefor them; this led to the so-called Cambrian explosion, the rapid evolution of skeletalized metazoans.

Trilobites originated in the Neoproterozoic and began to diversify before the break-up of Pannotia 600–550 Ma, as evidenced by their ubiquitous presence in the fossil record, and the lack of vicariance patterns in their lineage.

See also



  • Bond, G. C.; Nickeson, P. A.; Kominz, M. A. (1984). "Breakup of a supercontinent between 625 Ma and 555 Ma: freshevidence and implications for continental histories". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 70 (2): 325–45. Bibcode:. doi:.
  • Dalziel, I. W. (1997). "Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic geography and tectonics: Review, hypothesis, environmental speculation". Geological Society of America Bulletin. 109 (1): 16–42. Bibcode:. doi:.
  • Goodge, J. W.; Vervoort, J. D.; Fanning, C. M.; Brecke, D. M.; Farmer, G. L.; Williams, I. S.; Myrow, P. M.; DePaolo, D. J. (2008). (PDF). Science. 321 (5886): 235–40. Bibcode:. doi:. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 18621666. S2CID . Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  • McWilliams, M. O. (1981). "Palaeomagnetism and Precambrian tectonic evolution of Gondwana". In KrΓΆner, A. (ed.). Precambrian Plate Tectonics. Developments in Precambrian Geology. 4. pp. 649–87. doi:. ISBN 9780080869032.
  • Meert, J. G.; Lieberman, B. S. (2004). (PDF). Journal of the Geological Society. 161 (3): 477–87. Bibcode:. doi:. hdl:1808/93. S2CID . Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  • Meert, J. G.; Powell, C. M. (2001). (PDF). Precambrian Research. 110 (1): 1–8. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  • Meert, J. G.; Torsvik, T. H. (2003). "The making and unmaking of a supercontinent: Rodinia revisited". Tectonophysics. 375 (1): 261–88. Bibcode:. doi:.
  • Murphy, J. B.; Nance, R. D. (1991). . Geology. 19 (5): 469–72. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  • Murphy, J. B.; Nance, R. D. (2013). (PDF). Geoscience Frontiers. 4 (2): 185–94. doi:. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  • Murphy, J. B.; Nance, R. D.; Cawood, P. A. (2009). . Gondwana Research. 15 (3): 408–20. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  • Nance, R. D.; Murphy, J. B.; Santosh, M. (2014). . Gondwana Research. 25 (1): 4–29. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  • Piper, J. D. A. (1976). "Palaeomagnetic Evidence for a Proterozoic Super-Continent". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences. 280 (1298): 469–90. Bibcode:. doi:. JSTOR 74572. S2CID .
  • Piper, J. D. A. (2000). . Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 176 (1): 131–46. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  • Piper, J. D. A. (2010). . Journal of Geodynamics. 50 (3): 154–65. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  • Powell, C. McA. (1995). "Are Neoproterozoic glacial deposits preserved on the margins of Laurentia associatedto the fragmentation of two supercontinents? Comment". Geology. 23 (11): 1053–55. doi:.
  • Scotese, C. R. (2009). . Geological Society, London, Special Post. 326 (1): 67–83. Bibcode:. doi:. S2CID . Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  • Stern, R. J. (1994). (PDF). Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. 22: 319–51. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  • Stump, E. (1987). "Construction of the Pacific margin of Gondwana during the Pannotios cycle". In McKenzie, G. D. (ed.). Gondwana Six: Structure, tectonics and geophysics. Washington DC American Geophysical Union Geophysical Monograph Series. American Geophysical Union Monograph. 40. pp. 77–87. Bibcode:. doi:. ISBN 9781118664483.
  • Stump, E. (1992). (PDF). GSA Today. 2: 25–27, 30–33. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  • Unrug, R. (1997). (PDF). GSA Today. 7 (1): 1–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-06-01. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  • Young, G. M. (1995). (PDF). Geology. 23 (2): 153–56. Bibcode:. doi:. Retrieved 29 December 2015.

  • An showing Pannotia according to Christopher Scotese. (it is referred to as the late Precambrian Supercontinent in the image).
  • Torsvik, Trond Helge. . Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  • Stampfli, G. M.; von Raumer, J. F.; Borel, G. D. (2002). (PDF). Special Papers-Geological Society of America. 364: 263–280. Retrieved 4 January 2016. (see Fig. 3 for an Early Ordovician (490 Ma) reconstruction)

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