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Tethys Ocean implicated in Pangaea breakup

New perspective suggests need to rethink mechanism behind supercontinent’s demise

By
8:00am, March 8, 2015
Pangaea supercontinent

BREAKUP  The narrowing of the Tethys Ocean between early Eurasia and Africa tore apart the ancient Pangaea supercontinent, illustrated here during its fragmentation 150 million years ago, new research suggests.

Pangaea’s breakup may have been an outside job.

A reexamination of tectonic movements 200 million years ago suggests that the supercontinent was pulled apart by shrinking of the forerunner to the modern Indian Ocean. The new work, presented online February 27 in Geology, signals that scientists may have to rethink Pangaea’s demise, says geologist Stephen Johnston of the University of Victoria in Canada, who was not involved with the research.

“Everything we think we know about Pangaea is up in the air now,”Johnston says.

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