UCMP Glossary: Paleogeography

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Avalonia -- n. A separate plate in the Early Paleozoic consisting of much of Northern Europe, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and some coastal parts of New England.

Baltica -- n. A separate continental plate of the Early Paleozoic composed of the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, European Russia and Central Europe; named for the Baltic Sea.

barachois -- n. - A lagoon separated from the ocean by a sandbar, which was deposited in a delta after the last glaciation. The term is used in Atlantic Canada, where the landform is common.

Bering Land Bridge -- n. The vast tundra plain that was exposed between Asia and North America during the Last Glacial Maximum, about 21,000 years ago; it served as a migration route for people, animals, and plants. Also known as Beringia.

Canadian Shield -- n. A broad area of Precambrian rock that covers most of Canada, from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean and from Labrador to Northwest Territories. It forms the center of the original North American craton (Laurentia) around which the rest of the continent was added.

Cathaysian terranes -- n. A set of small landmasses that developed in tropical to subtropical latitudes on the eastern side of Pangea during the Permian and Triassic, includes modern North China (Sino-Korea), South China (Yangtze), Eastern Qiangtang, Tarim, and Indochina.

Cimmerian terranes -- n. An archipelago of small landmasses that developed in tropical and subtropical latitudes on the eastern side of Pangea during the Triassic, blocks that comprised it include modern Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, and Malaysia; also called Cimmeria.

Congo craton -- n. A separate continental plate that rifted from the supercontinent Rodinia in the Late Precambrian; contained a large part of north-central Africa.

Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway -- n. The epicontinental sea that formed as marine waters from the north spread over North America from around 130 to 70 million years ago (Ma), at its peak in the Middle Cretaceous (~ 90 Ma) it extended from present-day Utah to the Appalachians and from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico; also refered to as the Western Interior Seaway

Euramerica -- n. A supercontinent that existed in the Late Silurian through Devonian, formed by the collision of Baltica, Laurentia, and Avalonia; included modern North America, Greenland, Scandinavia, and Europe; also called the “Old Red Continent” for the red color of its oxidized deposits.

geologic province -- n. A group of rocks that share a common history or event, for example, rocks that were formed in the same environment at the same time or that were folded and faulted by the same event.

Gondwana -- n. A supercontinent that existed from Cambrian to Jurassic time, mainly composed of South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, Antarctica, and Australia.

Iapetus Ocean -- n. A relatively small ocean that existed between the continents of Laurentia, Baltica, and Avalonia from the Late Precambrian to the Devonian.

Laurasia -- n. A supercontinent that existed from the Jurassic to Early Tertiary after splitting from Pangea; composed of Laurentia, Baltica, Avalonia, (modern North America, Scandinavia, Greenland, Western and Central Europe); eventually fragmented into Eurasia and North America in the Tertiary with the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Laurentia -- n. A separate continental plate that existed from the Late Precambrian to Silurian, consisting of the major part of North America, northwest Ireland, Scotland, Greenland, and pieces of Norway and Russia.

Meguma -- n. - A terrane or microcontinent that formed in the Cambrian as part of the continental shelf of Gondwana, rifted apart in the Ordovician, and collided with the Laurentia in the Devonian; it forms the southern part of mainland Nova Scotia (Meguma Zone), separated from the Avalon Zone by a large fault that runs from Cobequid Bay to Chedabucto Bay.

monsoon -- n. - A seasonal weather pattern where winds, and often rain, come consistently from one direction for many months. It is caused by the temperature differences between land and ocean, and in general, a larger landmass makes a greater difference, which makes a more extreme monsoon.

Paleo-Tethys Ocean -- n. A large ocean that originated between eastern Gondwana, Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Baltica in the Ordovician and finally closed in the Jurassic; replaced by the Tethys Ocean as eastern Pangea was assembled.

Pangea -- n. A supercontinent that existed from the the end of the Permian to the Jurassic, assembled from large continents like Euramerica, Gondwana, and Siberia, as well as smaller landmasses like the Cathaysian and Cimmerian terranes; Greek for “all lands.”

Pannotia -- n. A supercontinent that existed in the Late Precambrian and gave rise to the continents of Gondwana, Laurentia, Siberia, and Baltica in the Cambrian.

Panthalassic Ocean -- n. A vast ocean that existed from the Late Precambrian to the Jurassic, circling the globe and connecting to smaller oceans that developed throughout the Phanerozoic; also known as the Panthalassa.

roche moutonee -- n. A rock formation created by a glacier. The front and sides of the rock are rounded where ice moved over it, and the back is angular, where freezing and thawing broke off pieces; the name comes from the French for "fleecy rock," also called a sheepback.

Rodinia -- n. A supercontinent that existed during the Late Precambrian before the supercontinent Pannotia; the oldest supercontinent for which we have a good record; Russian for "homeland."

Siberia -- n. A separate continental plate that existed from the Latest Precambrian to the Carboniferous, composed of a large part of central Russia, namely Siberia.

Tethys Ocean -- n. A small ocean that existed from the Triassic to the Jurassic; as Pangea was split into Gondwana and Laurasia in the Jurassic, an arm developed westward called the Tethys Seaway or Tethys Sea.

Last updated:2009-11-12