Paper No. 146-1
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM
GENESIS OF THE SUPERCONTINENT CYCLE
The supercontinent cycle, by which Earth history is seen as having been punctuated by the episodic assembly and breakup of supercontinents, has influenced the rock record more than any other geologic phenomena, and its recognition is arguably the most important advance in Earth Science since plate tectonics. It documents fundamental aspects of the planet’s interior dynamics and has charted the course of Earth’s tectonic, climatic and biogeochemical evolution for billions of years. But while the widespread realization of the importance of supercontinents in Earth history is a relatively recent development, the supercontinent cycle was first proposed thirty years ago and episodicity in tectonic processes was recognized long before plate tectonics provided a potential explanation for its occurrence. With interest in the supercontinent cycle gaining momentum and the literature expanding rapidly, it is instructive to recall the historical context from which the concept developed. The supercontinent cycle is examined from this perspective by tracing its development from the early recognition of long-term episodicity in tectonic processes, through the identification of tectonic cycles following the advent of plate tectonics, to the first realization that these phenomena were the manifestation of episodic supercontinent assembly and breakup.