Baltica is a paleocontinent that formed in the
now constitutes northwestern Eurasia, or
Europe north of the
Trans-European Suture Zone
Trans-European Suture Zone and west of the Ural Mountains.
1 Tectonic history
2.1 Northern margin
2.2 Southern margin
2.3 Western Margin
2.4 Eastern margin
3 See also
Baltica was located in what is now the South Pacific.
(Current location of Australia added for reference.)
550 milllion years ago
Baltica (green) was an isolated continent
located near the South Pole.
Baltica formed at c. 2.0–1.7 Ga by the collision of three
Archaean-Proterozoic continental blocks:
Fennoscandia (including the
exposed Baltic Shield), Sarmatia (
Ukrainian Shield and Voronezh
Volgo-Uralia (covered by younger deposits). Sarmantia and
Volgo-Uralia formed a proto-craton (sometimes called
"Proto-Baltica") at c. 2.0 Ga which collided with Fennoscandia
c. 1.8–1.7 Ga. The sutures between these three blocks were
reactivated during the Mesoproterzoic and Neoproterozoic.
Laurentia rotated clockwise together and
drifted away from the Equator towards the South Pole where they were
affected by the
Cryogenian Varanger glaciations. Initial rifting
between the two continents is marked by the c. 650 Ma Egersund
dike swarm in southern Norway and from 600 Ma they began to
rotate up to 180° relative to each other, thus opening the Iapetus
Ocean between them.
Laurentia quickly moved northward but Baltica
remained an isolated continent in the Southern Hemisphere closer to
Gondwana on which endemic trilobites evolved in the Early
During the Ordovician
Baltica moved northward approaching Laurentia
again allowing trilobites and brachiopods to cross the Iapetus Ocean
and form the Caradoc Series. In the Silurian, c. 425 Ma, the
final collision between Scotland-Greenland and Norway resulted in the
Baltica is a very old continent and its core is a very well-preserved
and thick craton. Its current margins, however, are the sutures that
are the result of mergers with other, much younger continental blocks.
These often deformed sutures do not represent the original,
Precambrian–Early Palaeozoic extent of Baltica; for example, the
curved margin north of the Urals running parallel to
Novaya Zemlya was
probably deformed during the eruption of the End-Permian Siberian
Baltica's western margin is the Caledonide orogen which stretches
northward from the
Scandinavian Mountains across
Barents Sea to
Svalbard. Its eastern margin is the Timanide orogen which stretches
north to the
Novaya Zemlya archipelago. The extent of the
Proterozoic continent are defined by the
Iapetus Suture to the west;
the Trollfjorden-Komagelva Fault Zone in the north; the
Variscan-Hercynian suture to the south; the
Tornquist Zone to the
southwest; and the
Ural Mountains to the east.
Terranes of the North American Cordillera, including Alaska-Chukotka,
Alexander, Northern Sierra, and Eastern Klamath, share a rift history
Baltica and most likely were part of
Baltica from the Caledonian
orogeny to the formation of the Ural Mountains. These terranes can
be linked to either northeastern Laurentia, Baltica, or Siberia
because of a similar sequence of fossils; detrital zircon from
2-1 Ga-old sources and evidence of Grenvillian magmatism; and
magmatism and island arcs from the Late Neoproterozoic and
From at least 1.8 Ga to at least 0.8 Ga the southwestern
Baltica was connected to Amazonia while the southeast margin
was connected to the West African Craton. Baltica, Amazonia, and West
Africa rotated 75° clockwise relative to
Amazonia collided with
Laurentia in the 1.1-0.9 Ga
Grenville-Sveconorwegian-Sunsás orogenies to form the supercontinent
Rodinia. When the break-up of
Rodinia was complete c. 0.6 Ga
Baltica became an isolated continent — a 200 million year
Baltica was truly a separate continent.
Baltica formed a single continent until 1.265 Ga which broke up
some time before 0.99 Ga. After the subsequent closure of the
Mirovoi Ocean Laurentia,
Baltica and Amazonia remained merged until
the opening of the
Iapetus Ocean in the Neoproterozoic.
Western Gneiss Region in northern Norway is composed of
1650-950 Ma-old gneisses overlain by continental and oceanic
allochtons that were transferred from
Baltica during the
Scandian orogeny. The allochtons were accreted to
Baltica during the
closure of the
Iapetus Ocean c. 430-410 Ma; Baltica's basement
and the allochtons were then subducted to UHP depth c.
425-400 Ma; and they were finnaly exhumed to their present
location c. 400-385 Ma. The presence of micro-diamonds in two
islands in northern Norway,
Otrøya and Flemsøya, indicate that this
Baltica was buried c. 120 km (75 mi) for at least
25 million years around 429 Ma shortly after the
The eastern margin, the Uralide orogen, extends 2,500 km
(1,600 mi) from the Arctic
Novaya Zemlya archipelago to the Aral
Sea. The orogen contains the record of at least two collisions between
Baltica and intra-oceanic island arcs before the final collision
Baltica and Kazakhstania-Siberia during the formation of
Pangaea. The Silurian-Devonian island arcs were accreted to Baltica
along the Main Uralian Fault, east of which are metamorphosed
fragments of volcanic arc mixed with small amounts of Precambrian and
Paleozoic continental rocks. No Rocks, however, unambiguously
originating from either
Kazakhstania or Siberia have been found in the
Urals. The basement of the eastern margin is composed of an
Archaean craton, metamorphosed rocks at least 1.6 Ga-old, which
is surrounded by the fold belt of the Timanide orogeny and overlain by
Mesoproterozoic sediments. The margin became a passive margin facing
an Ural Ocean in the Cambrian-Ordovician.
East European Craton
^ E.g. Torsvik & Cocks 2005, Norway’s earliest times, pp.
^ Bogdanova et al. 2008, The crustal segments of the East European
Craton, pp. 2–3
^ a b Torsvik et al. 1996, Abstract
^ Cocks & Torsvik 2005, The margins of Baltica, p. 41
^ Gee, Bogolepova & Lorenz 2006, p. 507
^ Torsvik et al. 1992, Introduction, pp. 133–137
^ Miller et al. 2011, Abstract
^ Colpron & Nelson 2009, Terranes of Siberian, Baltican and
Caledonian affinities, pp. 280–281
^ Johansson 2009, Abstract
^ Cawood & Pisarevsky 2017, Abstract
^ Hacker et al. 2010, Western Gneiss Region, pp. 150–151
^ Spengler et al. 2009, Abstract; Conclusion and implications, pp.
^ Brown et al. 2006, Geological framework of the Uralides, p. 262; For
a model of the arc-continent collsion see Puchkov 2009, Fig. 12, p.
178; Fig. 14, p. 180
^ Brown et al. 2006, The Paleozoic continental margin of
the Southern Urals, pp. 262–266
Bogdanova, S. V.; Bingen, B.; Gorbatschev, R.; Kheraskova, T. N.;
Kozlov, V. I.; Puchkov, V. N.; Volozh, Y. A. (2008). "The East
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(PDF). Precambrian Research. 160 (1-2): 23–45.
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of Caledonian, Baltican and Siberian terranes into eastern
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Continents of the world
Possible future supercontinents
Mythical and hypothesised continents
See also Regions of the world