GSA Today Science Article
The Rheic Ocean: Origin, Evolution, and Significance
R. Damian Nance, Department of Geological Sciences, 316 Clippinger Laboratories, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA; and Ulf Linnemann, Staatliche Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden, Museum fur Mineralogie und Geologie, Konigsbruecker Landstrasse 159, D-01109 Dresden, Germany. Pages 4-12.
What was the most important ocean to adorn the face of the Earth over the past 500 million years? Damian Nance of Ohio University and Ulf Linnemann of Museum of Mineralogy and Geology in Dresden, Germany, would argue that it was the Rheic Ocean. The Rheic Ocean formed some 490 million years ago during a rifting event that tore apart the northern margin of the continents that together formed Gondwana, including Africa and South America. It was not the opening of the Rheic Ocean, but rather its demise that makes it so important. The closure of the Rheic Ocean at about 360 million years ago that gave rise to Earth's most recent supercontinent, Pangea. Ironically, the subsequent rifting of Pangea, giving rise to the Atlantic Ocean, tore apart the mountain systems that formed during the closure of the Rheic Ocean. Nance and Linnemann, based on careful correlation of structures and strata from the American Appalachians and the European Variscan mountain systems, have been able to reconstruct the tectonic life and death of the Rheic Ocean, and hence have provided us with insight into the processes that gave rise to and presaged the inevitable tectonic destruction of Pangea.
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