Earth Sciences


A supercontinent is the name given to a single continental land mass which is formed by all or most of the continental lithosphere at that time. Apparently, scientists have discovered that there is a cycle of supercontinents that form and separate every 400 to 500 million years, which are driven by tectonic plates. Scientists estimate that there was a cycle of at least seven supercontinents on Earth. The last supercontinent, the famous Pangea, was formed about 300 million years ago and separated about 100 million years later. It is believed that within several hundred million years all continents will come together once again to form a new supercontinent.


Related topics

Atlantic, Pangea, Vaalbara

What is a supercontinent?

The term supercontinent is a word from geological branch that is used to define large earth masses formed by two or more blocks of continents that by the movement of tectonic plates are displaced.

Characteristics of supercontinents

The main characteristics of the supercontinents are as follows:


Continents are derived or formed by the movements of tectonic plates. These movements have taken millions of years throughout history to separate the super continents from what we have today. It is believed that from the time the planet earth was born, thousands of years passed until the lithosphere cooled enough to shape the oceans, and during this process, pieces of land emerged from the sea. From this theory it is supposed that the first supercontinent was born.

With the passage of time this continent was suffering changes and dividing little by little creating a new one. It is in this way that it is believed that the different supercontinents have arisen on earth, until reaching our current continents.

Supercontinental cycle

The supercontinental cycle is also known as Wilson cycle. It was proposed by John Tuzo Wilson and established that every 400 or 500 million years, the masses on earth unite, forming a supercontinent.

The cycle takes place through tectonic plate movements that cause continents to move, collide and ultimately solidify creating a large mass of continents. According to his theory, this happens on earth every certain number of years because the supercontinents exert pressure which prevents the internal heat in the earth from coming to the surface causing the earth to fracture and a new cycle to begin.

Effects of a supercontinent

Experts believe that the creation of supercontinents generates important climatic changes, dangerous and intense volcanic processes and cycles with very high levels of carbon dioxide that produce high temperatures and the greenhouse effect.

Examples of supercontinent

Below, we detail the supercontinents that have existed on earth:

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

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