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Journal of African Earth Sciences, Vol. 28, No, 1, pp.

9 9 - 1 1 4 , 1999
Pergamon © 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd
PII:S0899-5362/98~00084-0 A , rights reserved. Printed in Great Britain
0899-5362/99 $- see front matter

Gondwanan palaeogeography and palaeoclimatology

C. R. SCOTESE, 1'* A. J. BOUCOT 2 and W. S. MCKERROW 3

Department of Geology, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas 76019, USA
Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University, Parks Road, Oxford OXl 3PR, UK

ABSTRACT--Lithological indicators of climate, such as coals, evaporites, bauxites, and tillites,

can be used to map the past position of the major climatic zones (Humid Tropics, Dry Subtropics,
Warm and Cool Temperate, and Polar) that crossed the supercontinent of Gondwana. The
early proponents of continental drift (Wegener, 1912; du Toit, 1937) recognised this fact and
inferred that apparent climatic changes (e.g. Late Ordovician tillites in the Sahara Desert) were
actually the result of Gondwana's movement across these climatic belts. It is now known that
the changing width and location of these climatic zones reflects both: (1) Gondwana's latitudinal
movement; and (2) changes in global climate from Ice House to Hot House conditions. This
paper presents seven palaeogeographic maps and seven palaeoclimatic maps illustrating
Gondwana's changing climate. @1999 Elsevier Science Limited. All rights reserved.

RI~SUMI~--Les indicateurs lithologiques du climat, comme le charbon, les evaporites, les bauxites
et les tillites, peuvent etre utilises pour cartographier la position ancienne des zones climatiques
majeures (tropical humide, subtropical sec, temp6re chaud, temper~ froid et polaire) travers6es
par le supercontinent du Gondwana. Les pionniers de la d6rive des continents (Wegener,
1912; du Toit, 1937) ont reconnu ce fait et d~duit que les changements climatiques (par
exemple, les tillites de I'Ordovician tardif dans le D~sert du Sahara) resultaient en fait du
d~placement du Gondwana ~ travers ces ceintures climatiques. Nous savons maintenant que
la largeur variable et la Iocalis~tion des zones climatiques refletent ~ la fois: (1) le d6placement
en latitude du Gondwana et (2) les changements du climat global de conditions de glaci~re
celles d'effet de serre. Ce papier pr6sente sept cartes pal~og~ographiques et sept cartes
pal6oclimatiques illustrant les changements climatiques du Gondwana. © 1999 Elsevier Science
Limited. All rights reserved.

(Received 15/8/98: accepted 30/10/98)

A t its m a x i m u m extent, the supercontinent of This paper r e v i e w s the temporal and spatial
Gondwana made up more than 7 0 % of the Earth's patterns of Gondwana's changing climate. Presented
continental area (-107 km2). Formed during the latest are several maps (see Appendix) s h o w i n g the
Precambrian and rifted apart in a series of ocean location of the major climatic zones that crossed
forming events that stretched into the Cretaceous, Gondwana and the geological evidence that is the
the supercontinent of Gondwana lasted 500 + 50 basis for these interpretations is reviewed.
million years. During this vast time interval, the far In order to understand G o n d w a n a ' s changing
r e a c h e s of t h i s e n o r m o u s s u p e r c o n t i n e n t climate it is necessary to separate climatic change
experienced every climate Earth had to offer: warm, into t w o components:
humid equatorial rainforests, arid subtropical deserts, i) secular climate change due to the latitudinal
temperate forests, and frigid polar ice caps. m o v e m e n t of Gondwana across zonal climatic
belts; and
*emaih chris@scotese.com

Journal o f African Earth Sciences 9 9

C. R. SCOTESE et al.




TR ~ J

Figure 1. Apparent polar wander path for Gondwana from the Late Precambrian to the
Early Cretaceous (100 Ma). V: Vendian (650 Ma); LCam: Late Cambrian (525 Ma); LO:
Late Ordovician (445 Ma); S: Silurian (420 Ma); D: Devonian (380 Me); EC: Early
Carboniferous (365 Me); LC: Late Carboniferous (300 Ma); P: Permian (245 Me); TR:
Triassic (210 Ma); J: Jurassic (175 Ma); EK: Early Cretaceous (120Ma).

ii) global climate change due to world-wide shifts and rapid excursions (e.g. Air ring complex,
from 'Hot House' to 'Ice House' conditions. Hargraves et al., 1987).
Because of its great size the continent of
Secular climatic change Gondwana stretched from the South Pole to the
For the last 600 million years the South Pole has Equator. As the APWP in Fig. 1 implies, at any
resided w i t h i n , or near, the boundaries of one t i m e d i f f e r e n t p a r t s of G o n d w a n a
Gondwana. Figure 1 illustrates the best estimate simultaneously experienced polar, temperate,
for the path the South Pole has taken across subtropical and equatorial climates. As Gondwana
Gondwana. This path is similar to the apparent drifted across the South Pole these climatic belts
polar wander paths (APWPs) proposed by Grunow similarly shifted position.
(1998, 1999) and Smith (1998, 1999). This Though the pattern of secular climatic change is
APWP is simpler and more direct than other complex, some broad geographic patterns can be
proposed APWPs that include rapid meanders and recognised. From the Late Precambrian through to
loops (Bachtadse and Briden, 1990; Kent and van the Middle Palaeozoic, the western part of Gondwana
der Voo, 1990; Powell and Li, 1994). This direct (northern South America and north-western Africa)
path is in accordance with: moved from south polar latitudes to subtropical
i) the d i s t r i b u t i o n of climatically sensitive latitudes. In contrast, the Indo-Australian region of
lithofacies and faunas (Scotese and Barrett, Gondwana remained at relatively low latitudes from
1990); the Late Precambrian through to the Middle
ii) rates of plate motion equal to or less than Palaeozoic (Fig. 1). During the Late Devonian, the
than 6 cm a-1, which agrees with the observation Indo-Australian-Antarctic region of Gondwana moved
that supercontinents, such as Gondwana, Eurasia rapidly from a subtropical to polar position, where it
and Pangaea tend to move slowly (2-5 cm a-1) remained throughout the Carboniferous, Permian and
(Kraus et al., 1993); and Triassic. In contrast, during the Late Palaeozoic and
iii) this APWP is based on a comprehensive, Early Mesozoic the northern and western half of
global average of reliable palaeomagnetic data Gondwana remained at subtropical latitudes (Fig.
(Bocharova and Scotese, 1993) and does not rely 1).
on single palaeomagnetic determinations, which During the Jurassic and Cretaceous the general
in the past have sometimes required wide loops tendency has been for all the Gondwana continents

100 Journal of African Earth Sciences

G o n d w a n a n pal~eogeography and pala~oclimatology

Global climatic change

If Gondwana's changing climates were solely the
PLEISTOCENE result of its changing latitudinal position then it
would be a simple matter to predict expected
climates through time. However, superimposed on
this pattern of secular climatic change is a signal
of global climatic change. During the 500 million
years that Gondwana and its fragments existed,
the Earth's global climate system has shifted from
'Ice House' conditions to 'Hot House' conditions
four times (Fig. 2) (Frakes et al., 1992).
Here 'Ice House' conditions are defined as those
times when one or both of the Earth's polar regions
are covered by permanent ice. Due to orbital
variations (Milankovitch cycles) and changing
patterns of thermo-haline oceanic circulation
(Broecker and van Donk, 1970), the size of the
polar ice cap waxes and wanes. 'Ice Ages' are
those times when continental ice sheets are at
their maximum extent. The ice sheets retreat during
intervening 'Interglacial' times, like the present
day. The average global temperature during times
TRIASSIC of Ice House conditions is approximately 12-14°C
251 (Worsley et al., 1994).
PERMIAN In contrast, when the Earth is experiencing 'Hot
House' conditions, there is no permanent ice cover
CARBO N IFERO US at the poles. Seasonal snow and ice are also rare
or absent. The average global temperature in a
DEVONIAN Hot House world may be as high as 18-22°C.
Equatorial temperatures may reach 30°C and it
may be as warm as 14°C at the poles (Worsley
et al., 1994).
Late Precambrian ice ages are not easily dated.
Though other Late Precambrian ice ages preceded
54:: it, the first Gondwanan Ice House episode was
the great Vendian Ice Age, which coincided with
the assembly of Gondwana (650-550 Ma). Indeed,
VENDIAN the collisions that formed Gondwana may have
played a role in creating Ice House conditions
during the Late Precambrian. This Ice House world
650 was followed by global warming during the
T- Cambrian and Early Ordovician.
The second Ice House episode was a relatively
Figure 2. Global climate change, modified after Frakes e t al. brief (26 Ma) but extensive period of global cooling
(1992). during the Late Ordovician and earliest Silurian. It
was followed by a period of global warming from
the Silurian through the Middle Devonian.
to move northward, either from subtropical to The third episode of Ice House conditions began
equatorial positions (Africa, Arabia, India, South in the latest Devonian-earliest Carboniferous,
America) or from temperate to subtropical positions waned during the Early Carboniferous, expanded
(Australia). Only Antarctica has remained within during the early Late Carboniferous (Namurian B),
1000 km of the South Pole since the Carboniferous; and t e r m i n a t e d d u r i n g the Early Permian
and South America has not changed latitude by (Artinskian) (Ziegler et al., 1 997). This Ice House
more than 20 ° during the last 300 million years, world was followed by global warming during the
though it has drifted > 6000 km westwards. Late Permian, Triassic and Jurassic. Geological

Journal of A frican Earth Sciences 101

C. R. SCOTESE et al.

Table 1. Koeppen classification of climates (from Lutgens and Tarbuck, 1995)

A Humid Tropical Winterless climates; all months having a mean temperature above 18°C.
B Dry SubtropicalClimates where evaporation exceeds precipitation;
there is a constant water deficiency.
C Warm Temperate Mild winters; the average temperature of the coldest month is below 18°C,
but above -3°C.
D Cool Temperate Severe winters; the average temperature of the coldest month is below -3°C
and the warmest monthly mean temperature exceeds 10°C.
E Polar Summerless climates; the average temperature of the warmest month
is below 10°C.

indicators of climate and palaeontological evidence and in turn, the Late Cenozoic Ice House world.
suggest that Earth may have experienced 'run- These final two episodes of global climate change
away' greenhouse warming at the end of the will not be discussed in this paper because by
Palaeozoic. Whether or not this episode of global the Late Cretaceous Gondwana had completely
warming was triggered by massive volcanic dispersed.
eruptions in Siberia, this 'Super Hot House' world
may have been responsible for the Late Permian
mass e x t i n c t i o n event (Erwin, 1998, 1999; DATA AND METHODS
8owring et al., 1998). As stated in the introduction, the goal of this paper
The third episode of global cooling, during the is to map the c l i m a t i c belts t h a t crossed
Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous, by all accounts, Gondwana. In order to do this, the 'climatic belts'
was a 'mild' Ice House episode (Frakes et al., must first be defined and the lithological data and
1992). It was followed by the lengthy Late geological evidence that have been used to map
Cretaceous and Early Cenozoic Hot House world these belts discussed.

E Polar

D Cold Temperate

C Warm Temperate
B Dry Subtropical

A Humid Tropical

B Dry Subtropical

C Warm Temperate

D Cold Temperate
E Polar

Figure 3. Present day distribution of the principal Koeppen climate zones. A: Humid Tropics; B: Dry Subtropics; C: Warm Temperate;
D: Cool Temperate; E: Polar.

102 Journal of African Earth Sciences

Gondwanan palaeogeographyand pal~eoclimatology

W HighPressure Low Pressure


Figure 4. Zonal pattern of atmospheric circulation. A: rising limb of Hadley

Cell; B: descending limb of Hadley Cell; C: polar front.

Definition of climatic belts between cold, dry polar air masses and warm, humid
In this paper a simplified and modified Koeppen subtropical air masses (Fig. 4, C). The area of Polar
climatic classification scheme is used (Koeppen, climate (E) occurs primarily poleward of the Arctic
1931). The Koeppen system uses the annual and Antarctic Circles (latitude 66.5°N and 66.5°S).
pattern of temperature and rainfall to classify the
Earth's climate into five principal zones: (A) Humid Asymmetries and exceptions
Tropical; (B) Dry Subtropical; (C) Warm Temperate; Though the pattern of climate zones is primarily
(D) Cool Temperate; and (E) Polar. A more detailed latitudinal, there are several major exceptions and
description of each climatic zone is given in Table asymmetries that must be discussed. The most
1. The present-day distribution of these climatic prominent asymmetry is the East-West Longi-
zones is shown in Fig. 3. tudinal Asymmetry. At low latitudes, moisture-
As can be seen in Fig. 3, these five climatic zones bearing winds blow from east to west. As a result,
are primarily arrayed in a latitudinal pattern. The in the tropics and subtropics the eastern sides of
Humid Tropical belt (A) lies within 20 ° of the Equator continents are generally wetter than the western
in a region that receives high rainfall throughout the sides of continents (e.g. Australia, Madagascar,
year and there is little seasonal variation in North America, and eastern Asia). At mid-latitudes
temperature (Fig. 4, A). The Dry Subtropical belts (40-50 ° ) the asymmetry is reversed. Because the
(B) are centred on the Tropic of Cancer and the prevailing winds blow from west to east in tem-
Tropic of Capricorn (latitude 23.5°N and 23.5°S). perate latitudes, the western sides of continents
These are the regions of the Earth that lie below the are wetter than the eastern sides of continents
cool, dry limb of the Hadley Cell (Fig. 4, B). Most of (e.g. northwest United States, southernmost South
the world's deserts lie within the Dry Subtropical America, and northwest Europe).
belt (Sahara, Atacama, Sonorra, Kalahari, and Great Another important exception to the zonal model
Sandy Deserts). The Warm Temperate (C) and Cool is caused by differences in the proportion of land
Temperate (D) belts lie at mid-latitudes and are the and water. As one might expect, regions where
regions where seasonal confrontations take place there is an equal proportion of land and water are

Journal of African Earth Sciences 103

C. R. SCOTESE et al.

Table 2. Climatic zones and associated lithological indicators of climate

A Humid Tropical coal, bauxite, minor kaolinite
B Dry Subtropical evaporites, calcrete
C Warm Temperate kaolinite, minor bauxite, minor coal
D Cool Temperate coal, dropstones (boulder shale), glendonite nodules,
minor tillite
E Polar tillite, dropstones (boulder shale), glendonite nodules,
minor coal during interglacial periods

w e t t e r (southeast Asia, the Caribbean, the Late Precambrian tillites compiled by W. S.

Mediterranean) than continental areas that are McKerrow (Oxford) (Hambrey and Harland, 1981 )
land-locked and distant from a source of moisture to identify the climatic zones that crossed the
(central Asia). If a continent is large enough supercontinent of Gondwana from the Vendian
(Pangaea-sized) moisture will not be easily carried to the Late Cretaceous. In the following section
into the interior of the supercontinent, and the association of these various lithologies and
consequently deserts may occur at any latitude. climate is discussed. These associations are also
A third modification of the Koeppen climatic summarised in Table 2.
classification system is required due to the fact
that the Koeppen scheme was designed to Lithological indicators of the Humid Tropics (A)
describe the present day Ice House climate; but High rainfall and warm temperatures favour the
the "present isn't always the key to the past". luxuriant growth of plant life in the Humid Tropics
Though we are presently living in an Ice House (e.g. present day Amazon rainforest). If conditions
w o r l d , d u r i n g the last 5 0 0 million years, favour preservation, then coal beds will form. The
approximately 70% of the time the Earth simmered high rainfall and warm temperatures also promote
under Hot House conditions (Fig. 2). In a Hot extensive chemical weathering of silicate minerals,
House world, there is no Polar climate (E) and it producing soil profiles depleted in exchangeable
appears that at these times the Cool Temperate cations and enriched in clay and sesquioxides such
belt (D) may have been absent. In a Hot House as kaolinite and bauxite (Retallack, 1990).
world, the Humid Tropics (A) and the Dry
Subtropics (B) expand slightly poleward, and the Lithological indicators of the Dry Subtropics (B)
Warm Temperate belt (C) extends to the pole. Low, or seasonal, rainfall and warm temperatures
in the Dry Subtropics result in the net evaporation
Mapping climatic zones using lithological of water bodies and subsequent concentration
indicators of climate and deposition of evaporitic deposits, such as
As has been long noted (Parrish et al., 1982; gypsum and halite. In terrestrial environments,
Ziegler et al., 1984, 1987), some minerals and seasonal rainfall may be sufficient to dissolve, but
rock types preferentially form under certain not remove, all exchangeable cations in the soil
c l i m a t i c c o n d i t i o n s . The geological record profile. Calcium, in the form of calcrete, may
therefore provides us with an approximate means accumulate in a distinctive soil horizon near the
to map the ancient distribution of climatic zones. average maximum depth of water percolation
A. J. Boucot and his colleague, Chen Xu (Nanjing), (Retallack, 1990; Wright and Tucker, 1991 ).
have assembled a database of climatically sensitive
l i t h o l o g i e s t h a t i n c l u d e s the P h a n e r o z o i c Lithological indicators of the Warm Temperate belt
occurrences of coals, b a u x i t e s , kaolinites, (C) and Cool Temperate belt (D)
evaporites, calcretes, tillites, dropstones and Both the Warm and Cool Temperature belts are
glendonites (Boucot et al., in prep.). This database marked by the seasonal occurrence of moisture-
has been used, in combination with a data set of bearing, mid-latitude cyclones. In temperate

Figure 5. Vendian palaeogeographic reconstruction (650 Ma) showing the ancient distribution of mountains (dark grey), land
(medium grey), shallow sea (pale grey) and deep sea (no shading).
Figure 6. Vendian palaeoclimates (650 Ma; Ice House I). For symbols see Fig. 10.
Figure 7. Early Ordovician palaeogeographic reconstruction (500 Ma). For shading see Fig. 5.
Figure 8. Early Ordovician palaeoclimates (500 Ma; Hot House 1). For symbols see Fig. 10.

104 Journal of African Earth Sciences

Gondwanan palaeogeography and palaeoc/imatology

Journal of African Earth Sciences 105

C. R. SCOTESE et al.

latitudes, along the western coasts of continents, 1997). The fit of the Gondwana continents, in
the westerlies also provide an additional source particular, is modified from that of Lawver and
of moisture. High rainfall and seasonally warm Scotese (1987). The terranes of Cimmeria (Turkey,
temperatures favour plant growth and coal bed Iran, A f g h a n i s t a n , Q i a n g - T a n g , Lhasa and
formation in both the Warm and Cool Temperate Sibumasu) and Cathaysia (Tarim, north China,
belts. In the Cool Temperate belt, snow and ice south China, Indochina) have been added to the
may accumulate producing glacial deposits (tillites, Indo-Australian margin of Gondwana for the
dropstones and glendonites). Conversely, in the appropriate time intervals.
Warm Temperate belt, warmer conditions promote The second step in the map making process
chemical weathering of silicates and the formation was to orientate the plate reassembly relative to
of kaolinites and rare bauxites. Because of the the spin axis. This has been done using the
varied combinations of lithological indicators of palaeomagnetic data assembled by van der Voo
climate, the Warm and Cold Temperate climatic (1993). After eliminating aberrant palaeopoles and
belts are the most difficult to recognise in the palaeopoles with quality factors less than Q = 3,
rock record. global mean poles were calculated at 10 million
year intervals (Fig. 1, Bocharova and Scotese,
Lithological indicators o f Polar climates (E) 1993). Using this palaeomagnetic summary, the
The Polar climate zone (E) is only present on Earth location of the South Pole (plus sign) and lines of
during times of Ice House conditions. At these palaeolatitude (60 °, 30 ° and 0 °) were plotted on
times, ice sheets, sometimes several kilometres the maps.
thick and 100's to 1000's of kilometres wide, The third step was to indicate the ancient distri-
cover continental areas near the poles. These bution of mountains (dark grey), land (medium
slowly moving ice sheets are probably the most grey), shallow sea (pale grey), and deep sea (no
destructive surficial geological phenomenon- shading). The principal sources of palaeogeographic
scraping, grinding and obliterating thick sections information were: general sources information
of rock. Because younger glacial advances destroy (Ronov et al., 1984, 1989; Smith et al., 1994),
much of the evidence from older glacial advances, Gondwana overview (Veevers et al., 1994), Africa
often only the last major glacial advance is well- (Hulver, 1985; Dercourt etal., 1993; Schandelmeier
preserved in the stratigraphical record. The most and Reynolds, 1997; Said, 1990; Walsh, 1996),
abundant lithological evidence of glacial conditions South America (Tankard et al., 1995; Walsh,
occurs along the perimeter of the ice sheet in the 1996), Australia (Cook, 1990; Kraus, 1995),
form of tillites and boulder shales (dropstone Antarctica (Collinson et al., 1994), southeast Asia
deposits). (Hutchison, 1989), and China (Wang, 1985). The
Because polar ice caps produce frigid bottom accuracy of the palaeogeographic maps is inversely
water, the world's oceans cool during Ice House related to the age of the reconstruction. The more
times. The occurrence of glendonite nodules in recent maps are more accurate than the older
dropstone deposits has been considered evidence maps. Also, the location of Late Precambrian and
for cold water conditions. Glendonite nodules are Palaeozoic mouintain belts are speculative.
stellar aggregates of calcite pseudomorphing after In the final step, after the palaeogeographic base
ikaite (CaCO3.6H20), a mineral that is stable only maps were completed, lithological indicators of
at near-freezing temperatures (Frakes et al., 1992). climate (coals, bauxites, kaolinites, evaporites,
calcretes, tillites, dropstones and glendonites)
How the maps were made (Boucot et al., in prep,) were plotted on the maps.
The p a l a e o g e o g r a p h i c and p a l a e o c l i m a t i c Using the lithological indicators of climate and
reconstructions shown in Figs 5-18 were produced the inferred palaeolatitude, it was possible to
in five steps. The first step was to create a plate estimate the positions of the five major climatic
tectonic base map. The relative positions of the zones: (A) Humid Tropical; (B) Dry Subtropical;
continents and ocean basins are based on the (C) Warm Temperate; (D) Cool Temperate; and
PALEOMAP Project global plate model (Scotese, (E) Polar.

Figure 9. Latest Ordovician pala~ogeography (440 Ma). For shading see Fig. 5.
Figure 10. Latest Ordovician pal~eoclimates (440 Ma; Ice House 2). + : tillite, glendonite or dropstones; 0 : coal; II: bauxite; D:
kaolinite; A : evaporite; A: ca/crete; shaded areas: land.
Figure 1 I. Early Devonian pal~eogeography (400 Ma). For shading see Fig. 5.
Figure 12. Early Devonian palaeoclimates (400 Ma; Hot House 2). For symbols see Fig. 10.

106 Journal of African Earth Sciences

Gondwanan pal~eogeography and palseoclimatology

Jouma/ of African Earth Sciences 107

C. R. SCOTESE et al.

CHRONOLOGICAL REVIEW covered much of the North African and South

Vendian [Ice House 1l (Figs 5 and 6) American part of Gondwana. As numerous authors
Between 950 Ma and the end of the Precambrian have previously reported, tillites stretched in a
there were 3-4 separate Ice House episodes. The broad arc from Arabia, southern Europe, the
tillites shown on the Vendian map (Fig. 6), Sahara, Amazon, Argentina and South Africa (Beuf
represent the last of these glacial episodes e t a l . , 1971; Frakes e t a l . , 1992). These tillites
(Varanger stage, Hambrey and Harland, 1981 ). defined the Polar belt and the Cool Temperate belt.
The prevalence of glacial deposits at the end of An extinction event at the end of the Ordovician
the Precambrian has led some workers to invoke has been attributed to cold bottom water produced
global Ice House conditions - the 'Snowball Earth' by the Gondwanan Ice Sheet, cooling the oceans
hypothesis {Hoffman et al., 1998; Hoffman, 1999). and spilling onto the shallow water shelves in the
Though the idea of a completely frozen Earth is tropics and subtropics (Hirnantian Event) (Sheehan
tantalising, it remains to be rigourously tested. and Coorough, 1990).
An alternate hypothesis is proposed here to The Dry Subtropical belt was also well-defined
explain the widespread occurrence of glacial by a broad swath of evaporites that occurred
deposits during the Neoproterozoic. In this model, across Australia and Cathaysia, especially north
the mystery of the Vendian Ice House world is China. A Late Ordovician kaolinite in northeast
explained by the proximity of continental masses China hints at the location of the Humid Tropical
to the North and South Poles. Ice rafted debris belt. Anomalous kaolinites have been described
and glacial deposits formed on these continents from Algeria, and the Amazon Basin.
as they travelled across the poles. As can be seen
in Fig. 5, though some tillites are found at low Silurian-Late Devonian (Hot House 2)
latitudes (e.g. Australia), nearly 80% of the tillite (Figs 11 and 12)
localities occur at latitudes greater than 30 ° Though no permanent ice existed in the Silurian-
Furthermore, Vendian evaporites and platform Late Devonian Hot House world, cold water faunas
carbonates almost exclusively occur at latitudes near the South Pole (Malvinokaffric Realm) and
less than 30 ° (southern Arabia, Iran and India) unweathered mica flakes in muds and sands
(Rcnov et al., 1984). suggest an extensive Cool Temperate belt that
extended from the pole down to mid-latitudes.
Early Cambrian-Middle Ordovician (Hot House 1) The Dry Subtropical belt, indicated by the presence
(Figs 7 and 8) of evaporites and calcretes, hugged the perimeter
The break-up of Pannotia at the end of the of Gondwana from Spain, across the Cimmerian
Precambrian ushered in a period of global warming and Cathaysian terranes, and into Australia.
across Gondwana that lasted nearly to the end of Scattered kaolinites in the Amazon, Algeria and
the Ordovician. Though the South Pole was located southeastern Australia hint that a Warm Temperate
along the northwest margin of Gondwana, no polar belt may have lain between the Dry Subtropical
ice sheets are known from this time interval. belt and the Cool Temperate belt.
Evaporites map out in an expanded Dry Sub- Coal, an important lithological indicator of
tropical belt along the western margin of Gondwana. climate, makes its appearance in Gondwana in
Calcretes occur in Arabia at a palaeolatutude of the Middle Devonian. Coal beds in south China
35°S, and in Spain at palaeolatitudes of 60°S. were deposited in the Humid Tropical belt, whereas
Though evidence from other lithological indicators the coal beds in Sudan probably represent Warm
is sparse, an Early Cambrian kaolinite from Algeria Temperate conditions.
suggests that the Warm Temperate belt extended
to mid-latitudes (palaeolatitude 45°S). Latest Devonian-Early Permian (Ice House 3)
(Figs 13 and 14)
Late Ordovician-Earliest Silurian (Ice House 2) The Late Devonian-Early Permian Ice House
(Figs 9 and 10) interval was actually two Ice House worlds
During the latest Ordovician (Ashgill) and earliest separated by a warmer period. The first Ice House
Siturian (Llandovery), an extensive ice sheet world began in the Late Devonian (Famennian)

Figure 13. Permo-Carboniferous pafceogeography (300 Ma). For shading see Fig. 5.
Figure 14. Permo-Carboniferous paf~eoclimates (300 Ma; Ice House 3), For symbols see Fig, 10.
Figure 15. Middle Jurassic palaeogeography (165 Ma). For shading see Fig. 5.
Figure 16. Middle Jurassic palaeoclimates (165 Ma; Hot House 3). For symbols see Fig. 10,

108 Journal of African Earth Sciences

Gondwanan palaeogeography and pala~oclimatology


Journal of African Earth Sciences 109

C. R. SCOTESE et al.

and lasted through the Tournaisian, however, the evidence of polar ice on Gondwana from the
ice cap formed during that time was of limited Middle Permian through to the Jurassic.
geographic extent. Late Devonian tillites have been The Permo-Triassic mass extinction took place
found in Bolivia, the Amazon Basin and Niger. An during this Hot House interval and it has been
Early Carboniferous tillite has been described from suggested that massive global warming, triggered
the Himalayas, and a similar-aged diamictite has by the eruption of the Siberian Traps, may have
been described from the Miller Formation of South caused this mass extinction (Erwin, 1998, 1999;
Africa (J. Almond and F. Evans, pers. comm. 1998). Bowring et al., 1998). The pattern of the Permo-
Though no tillites are reported from the late Early Triassic extinction seems to fit with an episode of
Carboniferous (Visean-Namurian A), there may still super-greenhouse global warming. After the coal-
have been some polar ice. This inference is based producing, rainforest flora of the Late Carboniferous
on the occurrence of glendonite in shales from and Early Permian became extinct, the plants that
western Alberta. The glendonite nodule indicates replaced them were descendents of the xerophytic
that the deep oceans were still refrigerated, with 'Zechstein' flora. Consequently, a 'coal-gap' (Faure
near-freezing bottom water upwelling near the et al., 1995) follows the Permo-Triassic extinction.
equator (10°N). Cold bottom water can only form Widespread and significant amounts of coal do
from a melting ice mass in a polar region. not appear in the Mesozoic rock record until the
The Permo-Carboniferous Ice House world, and late Middle Triassic (Ladinian).
the growth of the great Gondwanan ice cap, A n o t h e r interesting feature of the Middle
commenced in the early Late Carboniferous Jurassic palaeoclimatic reconstruction (Fig. 15) is
(Namurian B) and lasted until the Early Permian the absence of the Humid Tropical belt. There are
(Artinskian). The extent and nature of this ice no equatorial coals or bauxites. Instead, coals and
cap have been discussed and described by bauxites occur on the eastern edge of the
numerous authors (Frakes et al., 1992; Martini, continent, at subtropical latitudes. This absence
1997). The Permo-Carboniferous ice cap covered of a Humid Tropical belt has been attributed to
the southern half of South America, the southern 'mega-monsoonal' atmospheric circulation
two-thirds of Africa (as far north as southernmost (Parrish, 1993). The Inter-Tropical Convergence
Saudi Arabia), India, Antarctica and Australia. Zone (ITCZ), which on average lies near the
Early Permian coal deposits are often associated Equator, is the locus of rainfall in the Humid
with these tillites and certainly represent warmer Tropics. According to this theory, strong seasonal
(Cool Temperate), interglacial conditions (e.g. monsoons can shift the ITCZ northward and
South African coal; LeBlanc-Smith and Ericksson, southward, distributing the rainfall over a large
1979). Dropstone deposits are known from the area, resulting in generally drier conditions than
fringes of the ice sheet, including the Cimmerian expected. According to the mega-monsoon theory,
terranes of Qiang-Tang, Lhasa, and Sibumasu. intense monsoonal circulation caused by severe
In addition to a well-defined Polar belt, litho- seasonal heating of the Pangaean landmass caused
logical indicators of climate clearly reveal the an extreme deflection of the ITCZ. Consequently,
location of the Humid Tropical, Dry Subtropical, a distinct zone of seasonal, constant rainfall did
and Temperate belts. Abundant coal deposits and not develop along the Equator.
some bauxites can be found in the Humid Tropical
belt that crossed the mid-continent of North Middle Jurassic-Early Cretaceous (Ice House 4)
America and western Europe. The Dry Subtropical (Figs 17 and 18)
belt is delineated by evaporites in the Amazon By the Early Cretaceous, oceans began to separate
Basin, Libya and Chad, and calcretes in Bolivia. the major fragments of Gondwana (Fig. 16). Ice-
Coal and kaolinites in southern South America, rafted debris and glendonite nodules from the
east-central Africa, India and Australia formed in northern hemisphere and from central Australia (Fig.
a condensed Warm/Cool Temperate belt. 17) indicate that the Earth had returned to Ice House
conditions. The Late Jurassic Ice House world was
Middle Permian-Middle Jurassic (Hot House 3) not as severe as the preceding Ice Ages. No large
(Figs 15 and 16) ice cap or system of continental glaciers developed,
By the beginning of the Sakmarian (late Early and it is likely that much of the ice was seasonal.
Permian) the Gondwanan ice cap had melted and In addition to the Polar climatic zone, lithological
the next period of global warming had begun. indicators of climate from the Late Jurassic-Early
Though there are tillites from the Late Permian Cretaceous help to identify three other climatic
(Kazanian) of northeastern Siberia, there is no zones: Warm and Cool Temperate, Dry Subtropical

1 10 Journal of African Earth Sciences

Gondwanan palaeogeography and palaeoclimatology

Figure 17. Early Cretaceous palaeogeography (140 Ma). For shading see Fig. 5.

Figure 18. Early Cretaceous palaaoclimates (140 Ma; Ice House 4). For symbols see
Fig. 10.

and Humid Tropical. The transition from the Cool of Arabia, Sudan and North Africa coals, kaolinites
toWarm Temperate is delineated by the occurrence and bauxites are encountered, suggesting more
of coals throughout Australia, India, southern humid conditions (Humid Tropical belt).
Africa and southernmost South America, grading
into kaolinites and calcretes in central Africa and
central South America. Equatorward, the abundance S U M M A R Y A N D CONCLUSIONS
of calcretes and evaporites increases, suggesting Lithological indicators of climate, such as coals,
dry, subtropical conditions. Finally, in the vicinity evaporites, bauxites and tillites, can be used to

Journal of African Earth Sciences 111

C. R. SCOTESE et al.

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CRS and AJB would like to thank the organisers Hambrey, M.J., Harland, W.B., 1981. Earth's pre-Pleistocene
of Gondwana-10, for the invitation to present and Glacial Record. Cambridge Univerity Press, Cambridge,
publish this work. CRS would also like to thank 1004p.
Hoffman, P., Kaufman, A.J., Halverson, G.P., Schrag, D.P, 1998.
Maarten de Wit for his encouragement, support A Neoproterozoic snowball Earth. Science 281, 1342-1346.
and review of this paper, Doug Cole for his review, Hoffman, P.F., 1999. The break-up of Rodinia, birth of
and P. Richmond for help editing this manuscript. Gondwana, true polar wander and the snowball Earth.
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Pal~eogeographic maps by C.R. Scotese, PALEOMAP Project (www.scotese.com).

1 14 Journal of African Earth Sciences