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Pangea was the latest of a series of global supercontinents. They formed at various times since plate tectonics began on Earth.
The collisions between continental plates formed the greatest mountain ranges in the history of the Phanerozoic eon. The mountain building included the Caledonian orogeny, the Alleghenian orogeny and the Variscan orogeny. The low mountains of Scotland, Scandinavia and eastern North America are the ground-down remains of these vast events.
Pangaea broke up about 180/200 million years ago, in the early middle Jurassic. It broke into supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana before each of these broke into the current continents. One rift resulted in a new ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean.
The second major phase in the break-up of Pangaea began in the Lower Cretaceous (150–140 Ma), when Gondwana separated into multiple continents (Africa, South America, India, Antarctica, and Australia).
The third major and final phase of the break-up of Pangaea occurred in the early Cenozoic (Paleocene to Oligocene). Laurasia split when North America/Greenland (also called Laurentia) broke free from Eurasia, opening the Norwegian Sea about 60–55 Ma. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans continued to expand, closing the Tethys Ocean.
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- Reconstruction based on Matte 2001; Stampfli et al 2002; Torsvik et al 1996 and Ziegler 1990
- meaning entire Earth in Ancient Greek
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