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The lithospheric structure of Pangea

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Sedgwick Club Conference 2015

Lithospheric thickness of continents, obtained from Rayleigh wave tomography, is used to make maps of the lithospheric thickness of Pangea by reconstructing the continental arrangement in the Permian. This approach assumes that lithosphere moves with the overlying continents, and therefore that the arrangement of both can be obtained using the poles of rotation obtained from magnetic anomalies and fracture zones. The resulting reconstruction shows that a contiguous arc of thick lithosphere underlay eastern Pangea. Beneath the western convex side of this arc there is wide belt of thinner lithosphere, underlying what is believed to have been the active margin, here named the Pangeides. On the inner side of the arc is another large area of thin lithosphere beneath the Pan-African belts of North Africa and Arabia. The arc of thick lithosphere is crossed by bands of slightly thinner lithosphere that lie beneath the Pan-African and Brasiliano mobile belts of S. America, Africa, India, Madagascar, Arabia and Antarctica. This geometry suggests that lithospheric thickness has an important influence on continental deformation and accretion.

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