You remember Rodinia, the supercontinent that assembled around a billion years ago and started to split apart again around 750 million years ago? Well, it’s time to put it back together again. At least some big pieces of it.
|Yellow = West Gondwana, Lilac = East Gondwana|
At the same general time, South America and the West African craton were added on the other side of the Sahara-Congo-Cape continent. The final amalgamation, called the all-Africa, or Pan-African Orogeny, resulted in a supercontinent – not one involving all the continents, but pretty super nonetheless – that stayed pretty much intact for the next 350 million years. It’s named Gondwana.
You might have heard this called Gondwanaland – that’s how I learned it back in college – but Gondwana means “forest land of the Gonds,” so Gondwanaland is redundant. Who were the Gonds? They were – and still are – a native people of central India. Their homeland contains rocks that helped us understand the assembly and breakup of the supercontinent that now has the name Gondwana.
Don’t forget that while various continental pieces were coming together, in other parts of the world extension and pull-apart were happening. North America, for example, was pretty much going its own way during the Cambrian.
—Richard I. Gibson
Image from Wikipedia, public domain.