World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000222142
Reproduction Date:

Title: Panthalassa  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Permian, Superocean, Carboniferous, Evolution of insects, Geological history of Earth
Collection: Historical Oceans, Mesozoic, Mesozoic Paleogeography, Paleozoic, Paleozoic Paleogeography, Plate Tectonics
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The blue ocean surrounding Pangaea is Panthalassa

Panthalassa (Greek πᾶν "all" and θάλασσα "ocean"[1]), also known as the Panthalassic Ocean, was the vast global ancestral Pacific ocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea, during the late Paleozoic and the early Mesozoic eras. It included the Pacific Ocean to the west and north and the Tethys Ocean to the southeast. It became the Pacific Ocean, following the closing of the Tethys basin and the breakup of Pangaea, which created the Atlantic, Arctic, and Indian Ocean basins. The Panthalassic is often called the Paleo-Pacific ("old Pacific") because the Pacific Ocean developed from it in the Mesozoic to the present.

In the map shown here, the Earth's equator was a line that roughly crossed the spot where Spain, Casablanca (Morocco) and Boston (U.S.) met. South of that line, the land mass is referred to as Gondwana. North of the line, it is referred to as Laurasia.

In the map, the Panthalassa Ocean is depicted as an empty ocean. Plate tectonic studies[2] have argued that during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic small fragments, or terranes (currently preserved at the North American and Asian margins), were drifting across the ocean plate until they accreted at the surrounding continental margins.


  • Formation 1
  • Reconstruction of ocean basin 2
  • Current state 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


By 900 million years ago (in the early Neoproterozoic) a triple junction formed as the supercontinent Rodinia started to rift apart. Between about 800 million and 700 million years ago Rodinia split in half in a significant rifting event which opened up the Panthalassic Ocean to the west of Laurentia, a continent that became North America.

In western Laurentia (North America), a tectonic episode that preceded this rifting produced failed rifts that harbored large depositional basins in Western Laurentia. The global ocean of Mirovia, an ocean that surrounded Rodinia, started to shrink as the Pan-African ocean and Panthalassa expanded.

Between 650 million and 550 million years ago, another supercontinent started to form: Pannotia, which was shaped like a "V". Inside the "V" was Panthalassa, outside of the "V" were the Pan-African Ocean and remnants of the Mirovia Ocean.

Reconstruction of ocean basin

Based on seismic tomography, subducted plates that are imaged in the mantle indicate that at least several different oceans or seas can be defined in the Panthalassa Ocean separated by intra-oceanic subduction zones[3] (i.e. Wrangellia, Stikinia and Telkhinia during the Triassic and Jurassic). The two main oceans in the centre are named Pontus Ocean in the west, of which its oceanic plates completely subducted over time and Thalassa Ocean in the east, hosting the Farallon Plate, Phoenix Plate, Izanagi Plate and later Pacific Plate. Peripheral oceans or seas have been named (clockwise) Mongol-Okhotsk Ocean, Oimyakon Ocean,[2] Slide Mountain Ocean[2] and Mezcalera Ocean. The transition to the Tethys Ocean in the west occurs via a number of undocumented oceans,[3] of which the Cretaceous Junction Plate[4] is a successor.

Current state

Most of Panthalassa's oceanic basin and crust has been subducted under the North American plate, and the Eurasian Plate.

Panthalassa's oceanic plate remnants may be the Juan de Fuca, Gorda, Cocos and the Nazca plates, all four of which were part of the Farallon Plate.

The Pacific Ocean evolved from Panthalassa after the breakup of the supercontinent of Pangaea, which in Greek means, "all the earth."

See also


  1. ^ "Panthalassa".  
  2. ^ a b c Nokleberg, W.J. et al. Phanerozoic tectonic evolution of the circum-north Pacific. USGS 231 Professional Paper 1626, (2000).
  3. ^ a b Van Der Meer, D. G.; Torsvik, T. H.; Spakman, W.; Van Hinsbergen, D. J. J.; Amaru, M. L. (2012). "Intra-Panthalassa Ocean subduction zones revealed by fossil arcs and mantle structure".  
  4. ^ Talsma, A., Müller, R.D., Bunge, H.-P. and Seton, M., 2010, The Geodynamic Evolution of the Junction Plate: Linking observations to high-resolution models, 4th eResearch Australasia Conference

External links

  • Paleomap project
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.