Rodinia (from the Russian родить, rodít, meaning "to beget, to
give birth", or родина", ródina, meaning "motherland,
birthplace") is a
Neoproterozoic supercontinent that was
assembled 1.3–0.9 billion years ago and broke up 750–633 million
years ago. Valentine & Moores 1970 were probably the first to
Precambrian supercontinent, which they named 'Pangaea
I'. It was renamed 'Rodinia' by McMenamin & McMenamin 1990 who
also were the first to produce a reconstruction and propose a temporal
framework for the supercontinent.
Rodinia formed at c. 1.23 Ga by accretion and collision of fragments
produced by breakup of an older supercontinent, Columbia, assembled by
global-scale 2.0–1.8 Ga collisional events.
Rodinia broke up in the
Neoproterozoic with its continental fragments
reassembled to form
Pannotia 633–573 million years ago. In contrast
with Pannotia, little is known yet about the exact configuration and
geodynamic history of Rodinia. Paleomagnetic evidence provides some
clues to the paleolatitude of individual pieces of the Earth's crust,
but not to their longitude, which geologists have pieced together by
comparing similar geologic features, often now widely dispersed.
The extreme cooling of the global climate around 717–635 million
years ago (the so-called
Snowball Earth of the
Cryogenian Period) and
the rapid evolution of primitive life during the subsequent Ediacaran
Cambrian periods are thought to have been triggered by the
breaking up of
Rodinia or to a slowing down of tectonic processes.
1.1 Paleogeographic reconstructions
1.2 Break up
2 Influence on paleoclimate and life
3 See also
5 External links
view • discuss • edit
Earliest sexual reproduction
Axis scale: million years
Orange labels: ice ages.
Human timeline and Nature timeline
The idea that a supercontinent existed in the early Neoproterozoic
arose in the 1970s, when geologists determined that orogens of this
age exist on virtually all cratons.[not in citation given] Examples
Grenville orogeny in
North America and the Dalslandian orogeny
Since then, many alternative reconstructions have been proposed for
the configuration of the cratons in this supercontinent. Most of these
reconstructions are based on the correlation of the orogens on
different cratons. Though the configuration of the core cratons in
Rodinia is now reasonably well known, recent reconstructions still
differ in many details. Geologists try to decrease the uncertainties
by collecting geological and paleomagnetical data.
Most reconstructions show Rodinia's core formed by the North American
craton (the later paleocontinent of Laurentia), surrounded in the
southeast with the
East European craton
East European craton (the later paleocontinent of
Amazonian craton ("Amazonia") and the West African
craton; in the south with the Río de la Plata and São Francisco
cratons; in the southwest with the Congo and Kalahari cratons; and in
the northeast with Australia, India and eastern Antarctica. The
positions of Siberia and North and South China north of the North
American craton differ strongly depending on the
SWEAT-Configuration (Southwest US-East
Antarctica craton): Antarctica
is on the Southwest of
Laurentia and Australia is at the North of
AUSWUS-Configuration (Australia-western US): Australia is at the West
AUSMEX-Configuration (Australia-Mexico): Australia is at the location
of nowadays Mexico relative to Laurentia.
The "Missing-link" model by Li et al. 2008 which has South China
between Australia and the west coast of Laurentia. A revised
"Missing-link" model is proposed in which Tarim Block serves as an
extended or alternative missing-link between Australia and
Siberia attached to the western US (via the Belt Supergroup), as in
Sears & Price 2000.
Rodinia of Scotese.
Little is known about the paleogeography before the formation of
Rodinia. Paleomagnetic and geologic data are only definite enough to
form reconstructions from the breakup of Rodinia onwards. Rodinia
is considered to have formed between 1.3 and 1.23 billion years ago
and broke up again before 750 million years ago.
surrounded by the superocean geologists are calling
Russian мировой, mirovoy, meaning "global").
According to J.D.A. Piper,
Rodinia is one of two models for the
configuration and history of the continental crust in the latter part
Precambrian times. The other is Paleopangea, Piper's own
concept. Piper proposes an alternative hypothesis for this era and
the previous ones. This idea rejects that
Rodinia ever existed as a
transient supercontinent subject to progressive break-up in the latter
Proterozoic times and instead that this time and earlier times
were dominated by a single, persistent "Paleopangaea" supercontinent.
As evidence, he suggests an observation that the palaeomagnetic poles
from the continental crust assigned to this time conform to a single
path between 825 and 633 million years ago and latterly to a
near-static position between 750 and 633 million years. This latter
solution predicts that break-up was confined to the
and produced the dramatic environmental changes that characterised the
In 2009 UNESCO's IGCP project 440, named '
Rodinia Assembly and
Breakup', concluded that
Rodinia broke up in four stages between
The break up was initiated by a superplume around 825–800 Ma whose
influence—such as crustal arching, intense bimodal magmatism, and
accumulation of thick rift-type sedimentary successions—have been
recorded in South Australia, South China, Tarim, Kalahari, India, and
the Arabian-Nubian Craton.
Rifting progressed in the same cratons 800–750 Ma and spread into
Laurentia and perhaps Siberia. India (including Madagascar) and the
Craton were either detached from
this period or simply never were part of the supercontinent.
As the central part of
Rodinia reached the Equator around 750–700
Ma, a new pulse of magmatism and rifting continued the disassembly in
western Kalahari, West Australia, South China, Tarim, and most margins
650–550 Ma several events coincided: the opening of the Iapetus
Ocean; the closure of the Braziliano, Adamastor, and Mozambique
oceans; and the Pan-African orogeny. The result was the formation of
Rodinia hypothesis assumes that rifting did not start everywhere
simultaneously. Extensive lava flows and volcanic eruptions of
Neoproterozoic age are found on most continents, evidence for large
scale rifting about 750 million years ago. As early as 850 and 800
million years ago, a rift developed between the continental masses
of present-day Australia, East Antarctica, India and the Congo and
Kalahari cratons on one side and later Laurentia, Baltica, Amazonia
and the West African and Rio de la Plata cratons on the other.
This rift developed into the
Adamastor Ocean during the Ediacaran.
Around 550 million years ago, on the boundary between the Ediacaran
and Cambrian, the first group of cratons eventually fused again with
Africa and the Rio de la Plata cratons. This
tectonic phase is called the Pan-African orogeny. It created a
configuration of continents that would remain stable for hundreds of
millions of years in the form of the continent Gondwana.
In a separate rifting event about 610 million years ago (halfway in
Ediacaran period), the
Iapetus Ocean formed. The eastern part of
this ocean formed between
Baltica and Laurentia, the western part
between Amazonia and Laurentia. Because the exact moments of this
separation and the partially contemporaneous
Pan-African orogeny are
hard to correlate, it might be that all continental mass was again
joined in one supercontinent between roughly 600 and 550 million years
ago. This hypothetical supercontinent is called Pannotia.
Influence on paleoclimate and life
Unlike later supercontinents,
Rodinia would have been entirely barren.
Rodinia existed before complex life colonized dry land. Based on
sedimentary rock analysis Rodinia's formation happened when the ozone
layer was not as extensive as it is today. Ultraviolet light
discouraged organisms from inhabiting its interior. Nevertheless, its
existence did significantly influence the marine life of its time.
Cryogenian period the
Earth experienced large glaciations, and
temperatures were at least as cool as today. Substantial areas of
Rodinia may have been covered by glaciers or the southern polar ice
Low temperatures may have been exaggerated during the early stages of
Geothermal heating peaks in crust about to be
rifted; and since warmer rocks are less dense, the crustal rocks rise
up relative to their surroundings. This rising creates areas of higher
altitude, where the air is cooler and ice is less likely to melt with
changes in season, and it may explain the evidence of abundant
glaciation in the
The eventual rifting of the continents created new oceans and seafloor
spreading, which produces warmer, less dense oceanic lithosphere. Due
to its lower density, hot oceanic lithosphere will not lie as deep as
old, cool oceanic lithosphere. In periods with relatively large areas
of new lithosphere, the ocean floors come up, causing the eustatic sea
level to rise. The result was a greater number of shallower seas.
The increased evaporation from the larger water area of the oceans may
have increased rainfall, which, in turn, increased the weathering of
exposed rock. By inputting data on the ratio of stable isotopes
18O:16O[not in citation given] into computer models, it has been shown
that, in conjunction with quick weathering of volcanic rock, this
increased rainfall may have reduced greenhouse gas levels to below the
threshold required to trigger the period of extreme glaciation known
as Snowball Earth.
Increased volcanic activity also introduced into the marine
environment biologically active nutrients, which may have played an
important role in the development of the earliest animals.
Columbia for one possible reconstruction of an earlier supercontinent
List of supercontinents
^ "Research paper suggests East
North America once
linked". The Antarctic Sun. United States Antarctic Program. 26 August
2011. Retrieved 15 November 2012. Reconstruction originally
published in Goodge et al. 2008, Fig 3A, p. 238; research paper
mentioned is Loewy et al. 2011. See also: Rejcek 2008.
^ a b c McMenamin & McMenamin 1990, chapter: The Rifting of
^ Redfern 2001, p. 335
^ Taube, Aleksandr M., R. S. Daglish, and M. A. Cantab.
Russko-angliiskii Slovar' =: Russian-english Dictionary. Moskva:
Russkii iazyk, 1993. Print. ISBN 5200018838
^ a b Li et al. 2008
^ Meert 2012, Supercontinents in
Earth history, p. 998
^ Zhao et al. 2002; Zhao et al. 2004
^ a b Piper 2013
^ Dewey & Burke 1973; the name 'Rodinia' was first used in
McMenamin & McMenamin 1990
^ See for example the correlation between the North American Grenville
and European Dalslandian orogenies in Ziegler 1990, p. 14; for
the correlation between the Australian Musgrave orogeny and the
Grenville orogeny see Wingate, Pisarevsky & Evans 2002,
Rodinia reconstructions, pp. 124–126; fig. 5, p.
^ For a comparison of the SWEAT, AUSWUS, AUSMEX, and Missing-link
reconstructions see Li et al. 2008, Fig. 2, p. 182. For a comparison
between the "consensus"
Rodinia of Li et al. 2008 and the original
proposal of McMenamin & McMenamin 1990 see Nance, Murphy &
Santosh 2014, Fig. 11, p. 9.
^ Examples of reconstructions can be found in Stanley 1999,
pp. 336–337; Weil et al. 1998, Fig. 6, p. 21; Torsvik 2003,
Rodinia old and new', p. 1380; Dalziel 1997, Fig. 11, p. 31;
Scotese 2009, Fig. 1, p. 69
^ Moores 1991; Goodge et al. 2008
^ Li et al. 2008, Fig. 4, p. 188; fig. 8, p. 198
^ Wen, Bin; Evans, David A. D.; Li, Yong-Xiang (2017-01-15).
Neoproterozoic paleogeography of the Tarim Block: An extended or
alternative "missing-link" model for Rodinia?".
Earth and Planetary
Science Letters. 458: 92–106. Bibcode:2017E&PSL.458...92W.
^ a b "Other Reconstructions for
Rodinia based on sources for
Mojavia". Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado
Boulder. May 2002. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
^ Scotese 2009; Torsvik, Gaina & Redfield 2008
^ a b Torsvik 2003, p. 1380
^ Piper 2010
^ Bogdanova, Pisarevsky & Li 2009, Breakup of
Ma), pp. 266–267
^ Torsvik 2003, Fig. '
Rodinia old and new', p. 1380
^ See for example reconstructions in Pisarevsky et al. 2008, Fig. 4,
^ Donnadieu et al. 2004[page needed]
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Rodinia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Scotese Animation: Breakup of
Rodinia & Formation of Pacific Ocean
"Dance of the Giant Continents: Washington's Earliest History"
Special Project 440: mapping
PALEOMAP Project: Plate Tectonic Animations (java)
Continents of the world
Possible future supercontinents
Mythical and hypothesised continents
See also Regions of the world