The making and breaking of supercontinents: Some speculations based on superplumes, super downwelling and the role of tectosphere

M. Santosh, Shigenori Maruyama, Shinji Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

313 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The mechanisms of formation and disruption of supercontinents have been topics of debate. Based on the Y-shaped topology, we identify two major types of subduction zones on the globe: the Circum-Pacific subduction zone and the Tethyan subduction zone. We propose that the process of formation of supercontinents is controlled by super downwelling that develops through double-sided subduction zones as seen in the present day western Pacific, and also as endorsed by both geologic history and P-wave whole mantle tomography. The super-downwelling swallows all material like a black hole in the outer space, pulling together continents into a tight assembly. The fate of supercontinents is dictated by superplumes (super-upwelling) which break apart the continental assemblies. We evaluate the configuration of major supercontinents through Earth history and propose the tectonic framework leading to the future supercontinent Amasia 250 million years from present, with the present day Western Pacific region as its frontier. We propose that the tectosphere which functions as the buoyant keel of continental crust plays a crucial role in the supercontinental cycle, including continental fragmentation, dispersion and amalgamation. The continental crust is generally very thin, only about one tenth of the thickness of the tectosphere. If the rigidity and buoyancy is derived from the tectosphere, with the granitic upper crust playing only a negligible role, then supercontinent cycle may reflect the dispersion and amalgamation of the tectosphere. Therefore, supercontinent cycle may correspond to super-tectosphere cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-341
Number of pages18
JournalGondwana Research
Volume15
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

supercontinent
downwelling
subduction zone
continental crust
rigidity
history
upper crust
topology
buoyancy
tomography
P-wave
upwelling
fragmentation
mantle
tectonics

Keywords

  • Plate tectonics
  • Super downwelling
  • Supercontinent
  • Superplume
  • Tectosphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

Cite this

The making and breaking of supercontinents : Some speculations based on superplumes, super downwelling and the role of tectosphere. / Santosh, M.; Maruyama, Shigenori; Yamamoto, Shinji.

In: Gondwana Research, Vol. 15, No. 3-4, 06.2009, p. 324-341.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Santosh, M. ; Maruyama, Shigenori ; Yamamoto, Shinji. / The making and breaking of supercontinents : Some speculations based on superplumes, super downwelling and the role of tectosphere. In: Gondwana Research. 2009 ; Vol. 15, No. 3-4. pp. 324-341.
@article{83013d0116fb48eaa33910cef6a6a604,
title = "The making and breaking of supercontinents: Some speculations based on superplumes, super downwelling and the role of tectosphere",
abstract = "The mechanisms of formation and disruption of supercontinents have been topics of debate. Based on the Y-shaped topology, we identify two major types of subduction zones on the globe: the Circum-Pacific subduction zone and the Tethyan subduction zone. We propose that the process of formation of supercontinents is controlled by super downwelling that develops through double-sided subduction zones as seen in the present day western Pacific, and also as endorsed by both geologic history and P-wave whole mantle tomography. The super-downwelling swallows all material like a black hole in the outer space, pulling together continents into a tight assembly. The fate of supercontinents is dictated by superplumes (super-upwelling) which break apart the continental assemblies. We evaluate the configuration of major supercontinents through Earth history and propose the tectonic framework leading to the future supercontinent Amasia 250 million years from present, with the present day Western Pacific region as its frontier. We propose that the tectosphere which functions as the buoyant keel of continental crust plays a crucial role in the supercontinental cycle, including continental fragmentation, dispersion and amalgamation. The continental crust is generally very thin, only about one tenth of the thickness of the tectosphere. If the rigidity and buoyancy is derived from the tectosphere, with the granitic upper crust playing only a negligible role, then supercontinent cycle may reflect the dispersion and amalgamation of the tectosphere. Therefore, supercontinent cycle may correspond to super-tectosphere cycle.",
keywords = "Plate tectonics, Super downwelling, Supercontinent, Superplume, Tectosphere",
author = "M. Santosh and Shigenori Maruyama and Shinji Yamamoto",
year = "2009",
month = "6",
doi = "10.1016/j.gr.2008.11.004",
language = "English",
volume = "15",
pages = "324--341",
journal = "Gondwana Research",
issn = "1342-937X",
publisher = "Elsevier Inc.",
number = "3-4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The making and breaking of supercontinents

T2 - Some speculations based on superplumes, super downwelling and the role of tectosphere

AU - Santosh, M.

AU - Maruyama, Shigenori

AU - Yamamoto, Shinji

PY - 2009/6

Y1 - 2009/6

N2 - The mechanisms of formation and disruption of supercontinents have been topics of debate. Based on the Y-shaped topology, we identify two major types of subduction zones on the globe: the Circum-Pacific subduction zone and the Tethyan subduction zone. We propose that the process of formation of supercontinents is controlled by super downwelling that develops through double-sided subduction zones as seen in the present day western Pacific, and also as endorsed by both geologic history and P-wave whole mantle tomography. The super-downwelling swallows all material like a black hole in the outer space, pulling together continents into a tight assembly. The fate of supercontinents is dictated by superplumes (super-upwelling) which break apart the continental assemblies. We evaluate the configuration of major supercontinents through Earth history and propose the tectonic framework leading to the future supercontinent Amasia 250 million years from present, with the present day Western Pacific region as its frontier. We propose that the tectosphere which functions as the buoyant keel of continental crust plays a crucial role in the supercontinental cycle, including continental fragmentation, dispersion and amalgamation. The continental crust is generally very thin, only about one tenth of the thickness of the tectosphere. If the rigidity and buoyancy is derived from the tectosphere, with the granitic upper crust playing only a negligible role, then supercontinent cycle may reflect the dispersion and amalgamation of the tectosphere. Therefore, supercontinent cycle may correspond to super-tectosphere cycle.

AB - The mechanisms of formation and disruption of supercontinents have been topics of debate. Based on the Y-shaped topology, we identify two major types of subduction zones on the globe: the Circum-Pacific subduction zone and the Tethyan subduction zone. We propose that the process of formation of supercontinents is controlled by super downwelling that develops through double-sided subduction zones as seen in the present day western Pacific, and also as endorsed by both geologic history and P-wave whole mantle tomography. The super-downwelling swallows all material like a black hole in the outer space, pulling together continents into a tight assembly. The fate of supercontinents is dictated by superplumes (super-upwelling) which break apart the continental assemblies. We evaluate the configuration of major supercontinents through Earth history and propose the tectonic framework leading to the future supercontinent Amasia 250 million years from present, with the present day Western Pacific region as its frontier. We propose that the tectosphere which functions as the buoyant keel of continental crust plays a crucial role in the supercontinental cycle, including continental fragmentation, dispersion and amalgamation. The continental crust is generally very thin, only about one tenth of the thickness of the tectosphere. If the rigidity and buoyancy is derived from the tectosphere, with the granitic upper crust playing only a negligible role, then supercontinent cycle may reflect the dispersion and amalgamation of the tectosphere. Therefore, supercontinent cycle may correspond to super-tectosphere cycle.

KW - Plate tectonics

KW - Super downwelling

KW - Supercontinent

KW - Superplume

KW - Tectosphere

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=62949247060&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=62949247060&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.gr.2008.11.004

DO - 10.1016/j.gr.2008.11.004

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:62949247060

VL - 15

SP - 324

EP - 341

JO - Gondwana Research

JF - Gondwana Research

SN - 1342-937X

IS - 3-4

ER -