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Opening of the Neo-Tethys Ocean and the Pangea B to Pangea A transformation during the Permian

Muttoni, Giovanni; Gaetani, Maurizio; Kent, Dennis V.; Sciunnach, Dario; Angiolini, Lucia; Berra, Fabrizio; Garzanti, Eduardo; Mattei, Massimo; Zanchi, Andrea

We studied the stratigraphy, composition, and paleomagnetic properties of lateritic weathering profiles of Permian age from northern Iran and western Karakoram, Pakistan. A limited set of samples deemed representative yielded stable low-inclination paleomagnetic components carried essentially by hematite of chemical origin isolated in massive, fine-grained, and homogeneous ferricrete facies. These laterites originated at equatorial paleolatitudes characterized by intense weathering processes under warm and humid climatic conditions. Paleomagnetic estimates of paleolatitude from Iran, Karakoram, and north Tibet from this study and the literature, albeit sparse, provide testable constraints on the motion of the Cimmerian terranes as the result of the opening of the Neo-Tethys Ocean along the eastern margin of Gondwana during the Permian. We confirm and help refine previous suggestions that the Cimmerian terranes migrated from southern Gondwanan paleolatitudes in the Early Permian to subequatorial paleolatitudes by the Middle Permian – Early Triassic. As a novel conclusion, we find that timing, rates, and geometry of Cimmerian tectonics are broadly compatible with the transformation of Pangea from an Irvingian B to a Wegenerian A-type configuration with Neo-Tethyan opening taking place contemporaneously essentially in the Permian.

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
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December 10, 2014