ISSN 0869-5938, Stratigraphy and Geological Correlation, 2009, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 259Ð274. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2009. Original Russian Text © S.V. Bogdanova, S.A. Pisarevsky, Z.X. Li, 2009, published in Stratigrafiya. Geologicheskaya Korrelyatsiya, 2009, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 29Ð45.

Assembly and Breakup of Rodinia (Some Results of IGCP Project 440) S. V. Bogdanovaa, S. A. Pisarevskyb, and Z. X. Lic a Department of Geology, Lund University, Sweden b School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Great Britain c Department of Applied Geology, Curtin University of Technology, West Received October 1, 2007; in final form, July 23, 2008

Abstract—The principal results of project 440 “Assembly and Breakup of Rodinia” of the International Geolog- ical Correlation Programme (IGCP) are reviewed in this work. A map of that compiled using geo- logical and paleomagnetic data describes global paleogeography 900 Ma ago. The assembly of Rodinia, which comprised most of continental blocks, lasted ca. 400 m.y. (from 1300 to 900 Ma). Its breakup pre- sumably triggered by mantle superplume took place between 830 and 650 Ma. The correlation between tectonic events in different continental blocks is considered. Some problems concerning the Rodinia reconstruction and history, e.g., the slow growth of juvenile crust and effects of mantle-plume events during the amalgamation period and of glaciations at the breakup time, are discussed. The latter caused changes in the biosphere and climate, whereas postglacial periods stimulated progress in biota . DOI: 10.1134/S0869593809030022

Key words: , , Rodinia, paleogeographic reconstruction, supercontinent, man- tle plume, and glaciation.

INTRODUCTION compilation of the Geodynamic Map of the Rodinia Supercontinent (Li et al., 2008). The map summarized The idea of a supercontinent’s existence in the ter- the available geological and paleomagnetic data on the minal Precambrian originated in the 1970s as a result of Meso and Early Neoproterozoic evolution of each attempts to explain the explosion of life on the building block assembled in Rodinia whose existence and great diversity of life forms at the commencement time is constrained between 1600 and 700 Ma. Being a of the Paleozoic (Valentine and Moores, 1970; Piper, result of a collective study that involved many research- 1976; McMenamin and McMenamin, 1990). In last- ers, the map contains compromises, and there remain named work, the supercontinent was termed Rodinia alternative viewpoints on some of its details. for the Russian word “rodina” (giving birth), as it was parental for the subsequent . The hydro- In this work, we consider the principal results of sphere surrounding Rodinia was named the Mirovoi IGCP project 440 and problems concerning the forma- (worldwide) Ocean. tion and breakup of the Rodinia supercontinent. We do A keen interest to Rodinia in the 1990s was associ- not intend to repeat here the geological and paleomag- ated with the search for geological and paleomagnetic netic data used to compile the Rodinia map and recently evidence of that ’s existence. In initial recon- presented in a special volume of the journal “Precam- structions suggested at that time, the disposition of brian Research” (Testing …, 2008). Our objective is to building blocks in the supercontinent was interpreted show that the experience of reconstructing Rodinia can controversially (Dalziel, 1991, 1997; Hoffman, 1991; be useful, when reconstruction of older Paleoprotero- Moores, 1991; Weil et al., 1998). To a considerable zoic and Archean comes into question extent, this was a consequence of the deficiency in con- (Rogers, 1996; Khain, 2001; Rogers and Santosh, fident geochronological and paleomagnetic data on 2002; Bleeker, 2003). most that even put in doubt the superconti- nent’s existence itself (see review in Powell and Meert, 2001). GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF RECONSTRUCTING THE PRECAMBRIAN SUPERCONTINENTS The International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP) aimed its project 440 “Assembly and Breakup There are three groups of data, which gave birth to of Rodinia” at testing the hypothesis, and a great the hypothesis postulating the existence of superconti- amount of new data collected since 2000 facilitated the nents in the Precambrian history of the Earth.


260 BOGDANOVA et al.

their ensembles and suggesting the same geodynamic settings. Appropriate examples for the case are concur- rent collisional orogens, “intercontinental” dyke poles, 615 Ma swarms, epicontinental “intercratonic” sedimentary basins, and common active and passive continental margins. When neighboring continents are lacking active margins, it is possible to assume that they were parts of an earlier megacontinent. The uniformity of biologic forms on particular continents also suggests their proximity in the past, but such an approach is applicable in the Late reconstructions only. Because of the similarity in the tectonic evolution of many Precambrian continents, their positioning relative to each other cannot be defined using the direct age cor- pole, 615 Ma relation lithotectonic complexes and must be confirmed by paleomagnetic data. Despite some limitations, only the paleomagnetic method can determine at present the relative paleogeographic arrangement of two or more continents. If continents belonged to one plate, their Fig. 1. Reconstructed paleogeographic position of Baltica apparent polar wander paths (APWP) should be similar. and Laurentia in the Late Precambrian after Torsvik et al. When the APWPs are comparable for all the continents, (1996), Hartz and Torsvik (2002), Cawood and Pisarevsky the geographic position of the latter within the super- (2006) with modifications; shadowed dark gray are colli- continent can be defined with acceptable precision sional belts dated at 1200Ð900 Ma (compare with Fig. 3). Paleomagnetic poles of Baltica defined for 615 Ma plot (Khramov and Sholpo, 1967; McElhinny and McFad- close to the equator, which shows the incorrectness of the den, 2000). Unfortunately, none of the APWPs is long reconstruction. If the relative positions of Baltica and Lau- enough to span entirely the Precambrian because the rentia were correct, the concurrent paleomagnetic poles of chance that rocks retained their initial remanence dur- the two continents would be in proximity to each other near ing billions or hundreds million is insignificant. the Southern Pole. The number of paleomagnetic poles established for the Precambrian is large, although not as great as for the Geological indications of the first group are as fol- : 1111 versus 8148 (Pisarevsky, 2005). lows: (a) close in time collisional events manifested in However, the available determinations do not satisfy in most continents; (b) high peaks of juvenile crust growth most cases the current criteria of their validity, as nei- in response to intense subduction; (c) lithologic and ther the initial remanence nor the dates of rocks appear biogeochemical indicators pointing to the existence of to be convincingly established in most cases. The situ- great continental masses (high erosion rate and low sea- ation has considerably improved during the last few level, changes in the chemical and isotopic composition years. Although the available reliable data are still of seawater evidencing a considerable influx of conti- insufficient for plotting the “lengthy” APWPs, compar- nental material into oceans, climatic changes toward atively reliable segments of the paths, as long as 100Ð cooling, and slow evolution of life forms). 200 Ma, have been plotted nevertheless for several Pre- continents (Laurentia, Baltica, , Kala- The second group includes paleomagnetic data hari, and Australia). Fortunately the Precambrian implying the coherent drift of several continental APWP plotted for Australia is consistent with the Phan- blocks. erozoic APWP. In the other cases, the APWPs plotted Data of the third group indicate breakup of giant for the to Cambrian period appear insuffi- continental masses. These are formation of large trap ciently reliable and controversial despite the intense provinces and basic dyke swarms, sharp climatic work done on improving the results. On the other hand, changes, global rise of because of the origin even separate reliable paleomagnetic poles bear very and growth of mid-ocean ridges, intense transgressions important information that constrains possible recon- and formation of epicontinental basins, sudden increase structions and disproves those, which are certainly in distribution areas of carbonate and SiO2-enriched incorrect. Let us consider two illustrative examples. sediments, intense burial of organic matter, and abrupt Torsvik et al. (1996) suggested the Late Precam- diversification of biota habitats. brian reconstruction of Laurentia and Baltica, where The reconstruction of any supercontinent should be the Southern Urals was connected with West Greenland complied with certain regulations that, taken altogether, (Fig. 1). Their reconstruction was based on limited, control the correctness of its configuration, i.e., of the poorly dated paleomagnetic data on doleritic dykes in relative arrangement of building continental blocks. Of northern Norway and Russia (Shipunov and Chuma- prime importance, therewith, are continuations of kov, 1991; Torsvik et al., 1995). The dykes used to be crustal structures by across boundaries of continents or regarded as the Late Proterozoic (Vendian) or Cam-



Laurentia poles, 1200–1250 Ma



Australia poles, 1200–1250 Ma

Fig. 2. Paleomagnetic test of Australia’s and Laurentia’s arrangement in different reconstructions (after Pisarevsky et al., 2003, with modifications); collisional belts dated at 1200–900 Ma are shadowed dark gray (compare with Fig. 3). As in the previous example, poles of one continent (Australia) are considerably remote from the concurrent poles of the other (Laurentia) in all the reconstruc- tions, which are consequently incorrect for the period 1250Ð1200 Ma. brian in age according to several KÐAr dates ranging The other example is the paleomagnetic test of Aus- from 525 ± 20 to about 580 Ma (Bekker et al., 1970; tralia’s and Laurentia’s positioning in Rodinia. Three Torsvik et al., 1995; and references in these works). The pertinent and the most well known models of connec- subsequent ArÐAr dating showed that at least some of tions between these continents were termed SWEAT the dykes correspond in age to the Devonian (Guise and (Moores, 1991), AUSWUS, (Brookfield, 1993) and Roberts, 2002). Later on, Hartz and Torsvik (2002) AUSMEX (Wingate et al., 2002). Recent paleomag- argued for the existence of the reconstructed configura- netic data on Australian rocks dated at 1210Ð1230 Ma tion throughout the Meso- and Neoproterozoic. Never- (Pisarevsky and Harris, 2001; Pisarevsky et al., 2003) theless, their reconstruction with the curious name and the positions of several paleomagnetic poles of the “Baltica upside down” contradicts meaningful geolog- same age reliably established in Laurentia were used to ical data (see references in Cawood and Pisarevsky, test whether Australia and Laurentia were parts of one 2006). In particular, researchers who compiled maps of continent in pre-Rodinia time. The results showed that continents for IGCP project 440 determined the none of the above models is valid for the time span pre- Neoproterozoic passive margins on the west of Green- ceding 1200 Ma (Fig. 2). and along the Uralian side of Baltica. Moreover, Consequently, cross-checking geological and paleo- according to recent geological investigations in the magnetic constraints is a very effective approach for Southern Urals (Willner et al., 2001) the passive margin reconstructing supercontinents and has been the basic was inverted into the active one at ca. 600 Ma. These one in the case of Rodinia’s reconstruction (Fig. 3). results are completely inconsistent with the model by Names of continents in the schematic map of Rodinia Hartz and Torsvik who postulated the intracontinental shown in the figure correspond to those commonly used neighborhood of the Southern Urals and West Green- in works on paleomagnetic reconstructions and do not land until the Cambrian time of rifting and the ocean coincide sometimes with geological terminology. For opening. New paleomagnetic and geochronological instance, Baltica on the map means a continent or plate data on the Long Range dykes in Laurentia and the that existed in the terminal ProterozoicÐEarly Paleo- Egersund dykes in Baltica (Murthy et al., 1992; Kamo zoic time only and included the East European as and Gower, 1994; Bingen et al., 1998; Hodych et al., its continental core (Cocks and Torsvik, 2005; Gee, 2004; Walderhaug et al., 2007) were used to determine 2005). In the Early Precambrian paleogeographic the practically concurrent (615 Ma) and sufficiently reconstructions, however, the terms “Baltica and the reliable paleomagnetic poles. This motivated the paleo- East European craton” are used identically meaning magnetic testing of different reconstructions of Lauren- and designate a megaterrane or continent. It is naturally tia and Baltica at 615 Ma. The testing showed, in par- understandable that Baltica of the Early Paleozoic dif- ticular, that the “Baltica upside down” configuration is fered in dimensions and shape from the East European impossible (Fig. 1). craton of the Paleo- to Mesoproterozoic period.


262 BOGDANOVA et al.


Australia Siberia

N. China Mawson S. China N. Alaska

Chukchi India Maud Kara Equator Laurentia E. Svalbard Rayner Kalahari

Greenland Afif-Abas Rio de Rockol la Plata Parana Panema Bayuda-Azania Congo Amazonia Baltica

Sahara Oaxaquia Sao- Francisco Hoggar W. Borborema Paranaiba


Fig. 3. Rodinia 900 Ma ago (after Li et al., 2008, with modifications): (1) presumable marginal shelves, (2) major collisional orogens in the period of Rodinia’s assembly (compare with Fig. 5).

PALEOGEOGRAPHY IN THE PERIOD continents (Laurentia, Siberia, and probably Amazo- OF RODINIA’S ASSEMBLY (1300Ð900 Ma) nia) were amalgamated earlier than the others (Baltica, India, and Australia), which joined them later. Paleo- The onset of Rodinia’s formation used to be dated at geographic reconstructions by Li et al. (2008) show 1300 Ma. As there is no possibility to date precisely the something resembling a supercontinent only beginning onset of any supercontinent formation (see below), we since 1050Ð1000 Ma. The final stages of the collision accept the mentioned traditional viewpoint. Many presumably lasted until 950Ð900 Ma. results of project 440 imply, however, that the main col- lisional events, which resulted in the appearance of a The Mesoproterozoic orogenic phases are indistin- stable continental structure termed Rodinia, took place guishable in particular continents. Most likely, the latter between 1050 and 900 Ma. This period postdates ear- were parts of larger megacontinents (e.g., of LaurentiaÐ lier accretionary events, which can be regarded as the Siberia or AmazoniaÐWest Africa), some of which first stages in the supercontinent’s formation, following retained their relative Paleoproterozoic or Mesoprot- the understanding of some researchers who, consider- erozoic configuration until Rodinia’s breakup and prob- ing the Wilson cycles, attribute the passive margin ori- ably later on. gin to the first stage in the formation of a later accre- tionary or collisional orogen. Being asynchronous, the Let us consider the correlation of tectonic events events in question progressed irregularly, so that certain during the assembly period of Rodinia (Figs. 3 and 4).



Central and Southern Rodinia: western Baltica, and southwestern Amazonia (current Laurentia, Kalahari, East , Amazonia, coordinates) had much in common until 1400Ð1300 Ma Baltica, and Congo–São-Francisco and belonged to the extended active continental margin of the Andean type. Paleomagnetic data suggest Laurentia coupled with West Greenland represented changes in the paleogeographic position of these conti- the largest block of Rodinia, the central one in the supercontinent according to all reconstructions. This nents by 1100Ð1050 Ma, for instance, the clockwise conclusion is based on remnants of the Neoprotero- rotation and southward displacement of Baltica into zoicÐPaleozoic passive margins distinguishable almost higher latitudes away from Laurentia (Park, 1992; everywhere along the Laurentia periphery (Dalziel, Pisarevsky et al., 2003; Pisarevsky and Bylund, 2006). 1997). The Grenville Orogen of Laurentia is the refer- As for the time span of 1200Ð1050 Ma, one of the ence structure for reconstructing paleogeodynamic set- hypotheses postulates that Amazonia, which was ini- tings during the formation period of Rodinia. This oro- tially northwestward of Laurentia (current coordi- gen occupying almost entirely the southeastern part of nates), first collided with the latter by its southwestern the North American Craton (Hoffman, 1989; Rivers, edge and, drifting to the northeast afterward (Tohver 1997; Davidson, 1998, 2008; Gower, Krogh, 2002) et al., 2002), collided with southwestern Baltica inherited to a considerable extent the Paleo- and Meso- between 1050 and 960 Ma (Bogdanova et al., 2008). proterozoic margin of the craton that existed already Conclusive collisional events of the Sveconorwegian 1800 Ma ago (Karlstrom et al., 2001). The pre-Grenvil- (980Ð960 Ma) involved the Oaxaquia and lian complexes of the orogen were variably affected by Chortis terranes (Murphy et al., 2004). In the history of the Late Mesoproterozoic orogenesis that progressed the Grenville orogen itself, the time span of 1000Ð through several phases (Rivers, 1997). The Elzevirian 950 Ma corresponded to the period of the post-colli- Orogeny (1.29Ð1.19 Ga ago) started with the oceanic sional extension (Gower and Krogh, 2002). crust’s subduction beneath the southern margin of the North Atlantic Craton and associated formation of Data on the position of the CongoÐSão-Francisco island-arc and back-arc complexes. Then it resulted in continent (Central Africa and eastern ) the collision (particularly intense in the western part of in Rodinia are controversial because of the deficiency the Grenville Belt) of Mesoproterozoic terranes ca. of paleomagnetic information and features in the tec- 1250Ð1190 Ma ago. The major Shawinigan (1.19Ð tonic evolution of the craton’s southern margin in the 1.14 Ga), Ottawan (1.08Ð1.02 Ga), and Rigolet (1.0Ð Late MesoproterozoicÐEarly Neoproterozoic (De 0.98 Ga) phases of the Grenvillian Orogeny were Waele et al., 2008). As is argued for in the cited work, responsible each time for crustal thickening and the the CongoÐSão-Francisco Craton originated ca. high-grade and often high-P metamorphism that 1380 Ma ago at the time of the Kibaran Orogeny and accompanied the collision of Laurentia with the other the collision between the Archean Tanzania, Bang- continents. Close in time collisional events were also weulu, Angola-Kasai, Gabon, São-Francisco and other characteristic of Baltica and Amazonia on the east and protocratonic blocks, including the Paleoproterozoic of Kalahari and Queen Maud Land on the west of Rod- intervening belts. The Irumide Belt on the craton’s inia in terms of current coordinates (Figs. 3 and 4). southern margin provides evidence for an active conti- The , which includes the Archean nental margin during the time span of 1055Ð1020 Ma, Zimbabwe and Kaapvaal protocratons divided by the and consequently that margin faced an ocean at that Paleoproterozoic Limpopo Belt of South Africa along time. This contradicts the craton’s involvement in the with the smaller Archean Grunehogna Block of East major period of collisional tectonics during the Rod- Antarctica, was surrounded on the south and east (cur- inia’s formation. Available paleomagnetic data do not rent coordinates) by the NamaquaÐNatalÐMaud Oro- exclude, however, that the CongoÐSão-Francisco Cra- genic Belt (Dalziel et al., 2000; Powell et al., 2001; Pet- ton could have been near Amazonia before 900Ð880 Ma tersson et al., 2007; Jacobs et al., 2008). As in the case and was separated again afterwards (De Waele et al., of the Grenvillian Orogeny, the pre-collisional forma- 2008). tion stage of that belt (ca. 1250 Ma ago) was associated Some researchers also consider remnants of oceanic with subduction and the origin of island arcs subse- quently accreted after 1135 Ma. The time span of island arcs dated at 930 Ma in the Borborema Province 1090Ð1060 Ma presumably corresponded to the period of northeastern as evidence in favor of of the KalahariÐLaurentia collision (Jacobs et al., the “independence” of certain South American and 2008). African blocks and their position outside Rodinia (Cor- dani et al., 2003; Kröner and Cordani, 2003). The correlation of the Grenvillian events in Amazo- nia and Baltica, as well as the positioning of these con- The same problems concern a group of continents of tinents in East Rodinia, are considerably specified now northwestern Rodinia, in particular of India that should based on recent geochronological and paleomagnetic be remote from the other continents assembled in Rod- data (Pisarevsky et al., 2003; Bingen et al., 2005; inia according to paleomagnetic data (Pisarevsky et al., Pisarevsky and Bylund, 2006). Southeastern Laurentia, 2003).


264 BOGDANOVA et al.

500 Age, Ma Ultimate breakup of Rodinia of breakup Ultimate 600 700 d periods of (1) accretion, (2) collision, (3) 800 900 NEOPROTEROZOIC 45 1000 E. orogen Nova orogen 1100 Irumidian Sunsas– Sibao orogen Brasilandia orogen Grenvillian orogen Sveconorwegian orogen 1200 Namaqua–Natal–Maud orogen Albany-Fraiser and Pinjarra orogens 1300 Orogeny Rondonia- San Ignacio Kibarian Orogeny MESOPROTEROZOIC 1400 1500 1600 123 1700 o-Francisco ã Siberia India Rayner S. China Tarim Australia Mawson Kalahari– Queen Maud Land Laurentia Baltica Amazonia Congo– S o-Francisco Correlation of continental blocks based on major geodynamic regimes of 1600 to 700 Ma (see references to dates in the text) an of 1600 to 700 Ma (see references dates in the text) Correlation of continental blocks based on major geodynamic regimes rifting, (4) Grenvillian Orogeny, and (5) mantle-plume tectonics during Rodinia’s breakup. and (5) mantle-plume tectonics during Rodinia’s Orogeny, rifting, (4) Grenvillian Fig. 4. Fig.



Northwestern Rodinia: Australia, South China, wana (Kröner and Cordani, 2003; and references Mawson, Tarim, India, and Rayner therein). The Rodinia configuration that is accepted in this work (Fig. 3) includes the Australian and Mawson cra- Northeastern Rodinia: Siberia and North China tons separated from Laurentia by the South China Cra- The position of the Siberian Craton within Rodinia ton in contrast to other reconstructions (e.g., Dalziel, is debatable. As there are no manifestations of the 1997; Karlstrom et al., 2001; Pisarevsky et al., 2003). Meso- and Neoproterozoic collisional orogenesis, Li et al. (1995, 2002, 2003) suggested this position of researchers (Condie and Rosen, 1994; Pisarevsky and the South China based on the correlation of tectono- Natapov, 2003; Rosen et al., 2006; Gladkochub et al., magmatic events in the and Yangtze blocks 2007b) pointed towards the similarity in the Paleoprot- separated by the Sibao orogen that points to a collision erozoic structure and the evolution between the Sibe- of the blocks 1100Ð1000 Ma ago (Fig. 4). The Cathay- rian Craton and Laurentia, considering this as evidence sia block is somewhat similar to the southwestern part in favor of the two continents’ proximity until 760Ð of Laurentia, whereas the Yangtze block represents 780 Ma; i.e., until the formation of a passive margin in another craton. Moores (1991), Brookfield (1993), and the southern Siberian Craton and the coeval emplace- Wingate et al. (2002) suggested alternative positions of ment of the Franklin mafic dykes in the northern part of Australia and East Antarctica relative to Laurentia. Any the latter (Ernst and Buchan, 2001; Ernst et al., 2008). of the reconstructions mentioned above (Figs. 2 and 3) On the other hand, there are geological data suggesting is acceptable only for the period post 1200 Ma (see that the Siberian Craton was surrounded prior to 1000 Ma higher). by passive margins almost everywhere, except its Proterozoic evolution of the Tarim Craton and, in southern side probably (Pisarevsky and Natapov, particular, its Neoproterozoic mafic dykes, suggest a 2003). The APWPs of Laurentia and Siberia for the resemblance to the Yangtze Craton. In the opinion of Lu period between 1040 and 980 Ma are similar, meaning et al. (2008a), the Tarim Craton could be near the east- their position was within one plate. The paleomagnetic ern margin of Australia. Such a situation differs from reconstruction predicts, however, a wide spacing that shown in Fig. 3 and must be verified in the course between southern Siberia and northern Laurentia (cur- of additional paleomagnetic research. rent coordinates). Several microcontinents (Precam- brian blocks of North Alaska and the Chukchi Penin- In Southwest Australia, the AlbanyÐFraser orogen sula) could represent blocks of Rodinia filling in that bounds the Archean Yilgarn protocraton in the south- space (Fig. 3). The predicted remoteness of Laurentia east along the boundary with the MawsonÐGawler pro- from Siberia (if both continents were parts of Rodinia) tocraton. Condie and Myers (1999) argued for the explains why the intense mafic magmatism 1267 Ma obduction of oceanic crust fragments onto the Yilgarn ago, which was responsible for the origin of the protocraton margin in the course of a collision 1330Ð McKenzie dyke swarm, the largest one in the , 1300 Ma ago. Two subsequent phases of collisional had no manifestations in Southern Siberia (Pisarevsky orogenesis (1190Ð1140 and ~1100Ð1000 Ma ago) et al., 2008, Ernst et al., 2008; and references therein). resulted in the ultimate formation of the AlbanyÐFraser In the there are also unknown orogen (Clark et al., 2000; Fitzsimons, 2003). The last geological data evidencing collisional or accretionary phase coincides in time with the Pinjarra Orogeny events of the terminal MesoproterozoicÐinitial Neopro- along the Australia western margin (Myers, 1993). In terozoic (Lu et al., 2008b). On the other hand, recent the terminal NeoproterozoicÐEarly Paleozoic, that mar- paleomagnetic data admit the possibility that this cra- gin was drawn into the Pan-African Orogeny (Collins, ton and Laurentia were parts of one plate until 615 Ma 2003). The continuation of those orogenic belts into the (Zhang et al., 2006). Similar biomarkers from rocks Mawson Craton (Wilkes Province) is proved by com- dated at 900Ð800 Ma have also been discovered in both prehensive research in Northeast Antarctica (Fitzsi- continents (references in the above work). According to mons, 2000, 2003; Mikhal’skii, 2007; and references these data, the North China Craton could be part of the therein). Neoproterozoic Rodinia. Trends of the Paleoprotero- High-grade metamorphic rocks of the Rayner Prov- zoic evolution of this craton and Laurentia are also sim- ince in East Antarctica, including the Enderby Land, ilar to some extent (Zhao et al., 2004). and similar complexes of the Eastern Gats in India Summing up the available information about the belong to the other collisional belt 990Ð900 Ma old assembly of Rodinia, we note once more that this was a (Fitzsimons, 2000; Dobmeier and Raith, 2003; Bhui et al., succession of asynchronous events (Fig. 4). Approxi- 2007). In Sri Lanka there are known island-arc com- mately 900 Ma ago, Rodinia included most of the Pre- plexes dated at 1100Ð880 Ma (Kröner et al., 2003). cambrian continental blocks, some of which were frag- Nevertheless, isotopic dates obtained for granulites in ments of the Paleoproterozoic megacontinents. The South India (650Ð550 Ma) exclude this continent from main collisional suture of Rodinia extended from the Rodinia and suggest only its participation in the Pan- northwest to the southeast for a distance over 10000 km: African collision along the of Gond- from India and the Queen Maud Land in Antarctica via


266 BOGDANOVA et al.

900 Ma



Siberia India Maw- N. China son S. China N. Alaska Ray QML Chukchi

Kara Kalahari Laurentia E. Svalbard

R-P Congo Greenland Sã o-Francisco Rockol o-Francisco Chortis Amazonia Baltica W. Africa Florida

750 Ma

S. China Tarim Siberia

India N. Alaska N. China


Ray Australia QML Laurentia Kara Maw- Kalahari E. Svalbard son

Greenland Rockol Chortis Congo o- ã S Amazonia Francisco Baltica Florida

W. Africa


Fig. 5. Reconstructed configurations of Rodinia at the assembly (900 Ma) and breakup (750 Ma) time (after Li et al., 2008): (1) major collisional orogens, (2) presumable subduction zones, and (3) mid-ocean ridges. the NamaquaÐNatal Belt on the Kalahari Craton margin BREAKUP OF RODINIA (825Ð700 Ma) and the Grenville Belt of Laurentia toward the Sunsas orogen and Sveconorwegian Belt of Baltica (Figs. 3 According to results of IGCP project 440, the his- tory of Rodinia’s breakup is consistent with models and 5). The other shorter collisional belts were in the presented earlier (e.g., Dalziel, 1991, 1997; Hoffman, Australian, Mawson, and North China of 1991, 1997; Powell and Meert, 2001). Paired belts Northwest Rodinia. along continental margins, swarms of radial mafic dykes, which intruded neighboring continents, and The coastlines of the supercontinent were appar- Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs), i.e., all the results of ently indented, and the Mirovoi Ocean ran deep inland mantle-plume tectonics characterize the period of Rod- that is evident from the existence of passive margins inia’s breakup that commenced about 830 Ma ago after around Siberia already about 1000 Ma ago. Evidence a short stabilization of the supercontinent (Figs. 4 and 5). that there were active margins ~ 900 Ma ago has been The four major stages of the breakup, which found in the western periphery of Siberia (Vernikovsky affected to a varying extent separate blocks of Rodinia, and Vernikovskaya, 2006). occurred 825Ð800, 780Ð755, 740Ð720, and 650Ð



N, %

RODINIA 2.7 Ga 15

1.9 Ga 10 1.2 Ga


0 0.2 0.6 1.0 1.4 1.8 2.2 2.6 3.0 3.4 3.8 Age, Ga

Fig. 6. Global peaks of juvenile crust growth (after Condie, 1998); gray vertical bar corresponds to the formation period of colli- sional orogens 1300 to 900 Ma ago.

550 Ma ago (Li, 1997; Ernst et al., 2008; Li et al., The last stage of Rodinia’s breakup that resulted in 2008). During Rodinia’s breakup, there was an almost the opening of the took place between concurrent growth of continental crust along the bound- 650 and 550 Ma (Cawood et al., 2001; Pisarevsky et al., aries of some continents, for instance along the western 2008). Another important event of approximately the margin of Siberia (Vernikovsky et al., 2003; Vernik- same time span was the formation of a new superconti- ovsky and Vernikovskaya, 2006). nent Gondwana. The closure of the Braziliano, Adamastor, and Mozambique oceans along with the The breakup of Rodinia was initiated most likely by intense development of the Panafrican Orogeny repre- a mantle superplume whose influence is recorded in sented the main associated events (Meert, Van der Voo, South Australia (Wingate et al., 1998), South China (Li 1997; Collins, Pisarevsky, 2005; Pisarevsky et al., et al., 1999), Tarim (Lu et al., 2008a), Kalahari (Frim- 2008). mel et al., 2001), India (Radhakrishna and Mathew, 1996), and the ArabianÐNubian Craton (Stein and Goldstein, 1996). In the opinion of Li et al. (1999), the SOME DEBATABLE ASPECTS superplume’s head was about 825Ð800 Ma ago under OF RODINIA’S HISTORY the (Fig. 5) and caused crustal arching, intense bimodal magmatism, and accumula- Slow Growth of the Juvenile Crust tion of thick rift-type sedimentary successions on all in the Mesoproterozoic and Subduction the adjacent cratons. Continental rifting in the same along the Perimeter of Rodinia? cratons progressed in the period 800Ð750 Ma and Considering the general trends of the juvenile advanced deep into Laurentia (Harlan et al., 2003) and crust’s growth, Condie (1998, 2001a) drew attention to presumably into Siberia (Sklyarov et al., 2003; Gladko- its low peak relatively to the continental crust growth chub et al., 2007a). India along with adjacent Madagas- ~1.3Ð1.1 Ga ago as compared to the peaks at ca. 2.7 and car and the Congo–São-Francisco Craton either were 1.9 Ga ago (Fig. 6). Indirect evidence of a lower contri- detached in that period from Rodinia, or never partici- bution of juvenile crust has been related to the absence pated in the structure of that supercontinent (Torsvik of large mineral deposits associated with the conver- et al., 2001; Pisarevsky et al., 2003; De Waele et al., gent boundaries of Rodinia (Barley and Groves, 1992). 2008). The mentioned facts seem to contradict the amalgam- ation of continental blocks into such a large supercon- In the period 750Ð700 Ma, when the central part of tinent like Rodinia, as the subduction’s role should be Rodinia was close to the equator (Fig. 5), one more very significant in this case. Analyzing the problem, pulse of magmatism and rifting influenced many conti- Condie (2001a, 2002) concluded that supercontinental nents of the disintegrating Rodinia: West Kalahari, cycles could be different. The assembling of a new West Australian, South China’s and Tarim’s cratons, the supercontinent did not always follow the complete dis- current northern, western and southeastern margins of integration of the previous one, and large, partially Laurentia, and Northwest Greenland (Ernst et al., fragmented megacontinents could be constituents of a 2008). new continental aggregate. The formation history of


268 BOGDANOVA et al.

87Sr/86Sr RODINIA GONDWANA δ13C 0.709 10

0.708 5 δ13C 0.707 1 0.706 –5 Mg/Ca 86 Sr 0.705 –10 Sr/ 87 0.6

0.704 0.5

0.703 87Sr/86Sr ratio in mantle Evolution of 0.4

0.703 Mg/Ca 0.3

0.701 0.2

1600 1500 1400 1300 1200 1100 1000 900 800 700 600 500 Age, Ma MESOPROTEROZOIC NEOPROTEROZOIC


Fig. 7. Global biogeochemical changes during the Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic: (1) principal periods of collision; (2) peaks of mantle-plume activity; (3) Sturtian (760Ð700 Ma), Marinoan (635Ð630 Ma), and Gaskiers (ca. 580 Ma) glacial epochs. Secular variation curves of isotopic characteristics and the Mg/Ca ratio in marine carbonates show that at the time of major colli- sional events during Rodinia’s and Gondwana’s formation, seawater composition in the Mirovoi Ocean greatly depended on the continental material influx and accelerated burial of organic matter because of the high erosion rate on the high-standing supercon- tinents (Semikhatov et al., 2002; Sochava and Podkovyrov, 1995; Kah et al., 2001; Frank et al., 2003). The latter situation was espe- cially characteristic of Rodinia’s breakup period. Line of the Sr isotopic composition in the upper mantle is after Veizer (1989). Between 1600 and 500 Ma, the 87Sr/86Sr ratio in the continental crust increased from 0.711 to 0.715.

Rodinia suggests the possible aggregation of large Accretionary-Collisional Orogens and Mantle Plumes fragments of the Paleoproterozoic supercontinent It is remarkable that periods of accretion and colli- Columbia (Rogers and Santosh, 2002; Zhao et al., sion during Rodinia’s formation coincided sometimes 2004). This means that the summary length of active with the occurrence of mantle plumes. The two most margins and the corresponding contribution of the effective mantle-plume events occurred ca. 1270Ð1250 juvenile crust to Rodinia were not so great. In addi- and 1100 Ma ago (Figs. 4 and 7). The former, known as tion, the secular decline in the juvenile crust’s produc- the Mackenzie event, resulted in the origin of the larg- est swarms of radial mafic dykes and sills in Northern tion could reflect the general evolutionary trend of the Canada (Gibson et al., 1987; Ernst and Buchan, 2001) Earth’s thermal regime. and Fennoscandia (Gorbatschev et al., 1987; Söderlund We have to state also that there are few data con- et al., 2006). vincingly evidencing the subduction settings along As is assumed in addition, the intense mafic magma- Rodinia’s perimeter (Cordani et al., 2003; Vernik- tism and rifting (Keweenawan and Umkondo events, respectively), which affected ~1100 Ma ago the gigan- ovsky et al., 2003; Vernikovsky and Vernikovskaya, tic territory of Central Laurentia and Kalahari, lasted 2006). The subduction zones shown in Fig. 5 are pre- only 3 to 6 Ma (Hanson et al., 2004)). These and the sumed, and mostly logical considerations defined somewhat younger (1070Ð1080 Ma) large igneous their position. province Warakurna in Australia (Wingate et al., 2004)


ASSEMBLY AND BREAKUP OF RODINIA (SOME RESULTS OF IGCP PROJECT 440) 269 could have been formed under the influence of mantle Rodinia. Lobkovsky et al. (2004) presented arguments plumes. in favor of a similar evolution model in their book. On The Mackenzie event did not split the lithosphere the other hand, the suggested succession of events is ca. 1250 Ma ago (Söderlund et al., 2006), as Baltica inconsistent with the viewpoint of Condie (1998, 2000) separated from Laurentia later on, approximately who postulated an approximate synchronism of super- 1100 Ma ago, according to the discrepancy between the plume activity and supercontinent formation, consider- APWPs of these continents (Pisarevsky et al., 2003). ing the former as responsible for the contribution of the This puts forward the problem of the interaction juvenile crust. between the mantle-plume and plate-tectonic events during the formation of supercontinents and, in partic- Neoproterozoic Glacial Periods: ular, of Rodinia. Variants of possible interactions, con- Effect of “?” sidered in recent publications, show that they could be controlled by many factors, e.g., by the lithosphere’s Neoproterozoic successions of Rodinia’s breakup thickness, the size and position of continents relative to period include sediments deposited during the Sturtian convection cells in the mantle and deep subduction (740Ð720 Ma), Marinoan (630 Ma ago), and Gaskiers zones, or by temperature in the lower mantle, etc. (585 Ma ago) glaciations. In addition to astronomic fac- (Condie, 2001b; Nikishin et al., 2002; Ernst, Buchan, tors (Williams, 1975; Crowley and Baum, 1993; Pavlov 2003; Lobkovsky et al., 2004). There are certain data et al., 2005), the other possible reasons of glaciations suggesting that mantle plumes could accelerate or slow could be a high albedo of a giant summary area of con- down continental growth and accretionary-collisional tinents clustered near the equator, intense weathering, processes during the formation of supercontinents. quick burial of organic matter, and ëé2 deficiency in the atmosphere because of reduced mantle-plume activity (Condie et al., 2001). Shown in Fig. 7 are vari- Supercontinental Cycles ation curves illustrating changes in certain bio- Supercontinental cycles were approximately as long geochemical parameters during the formation of Rod- as 600Ð650 Ma regardless of whether we define them inia and Gondwana. To a first approximation, postgla- beginning since the rifting stage and the disintegration cial periods and sharp biotic changes are correlative of an older supercontinent or the commenced aggrega- with Rodinia’s breakup and periods of intensified man- tion of particular continents (Khain, 2000; Lobkovsky tle-plume magmatism (Chumakov, 2001; Climate…, et al., 2004). The period of Rodinia’s assembly could be 2004). as long, depending on determination, as ~400 Ma, Readers can find a good deal of news concerning the being followed by its disintegration during ~150Ð ”Snowball Earth” hypothesis (Kirschvink, 1992; 200 Ma. In principle, it is impossible to define the pre- Hoffman et al., 1998) by visiting the web site cise time constraints for the existence period of any http://www.snowballearth.org. The hypothesis postu- supercontinent, because tectonic processes are perpet- lates catastrophic global glaciations in the Neoprotero- ual: some blocks, even if they are small, become zoic and a series of interrelated global biogeochemical attached, while others are detached at the same time. changes in seawater and atmosphere composition along The existence period of a supercontinent is a kind of with postglacial explosions in biota evolution. It is dynamic equilibrium between these processes. If we based on the widespread occurrence of glacial deposits take, for instance, the later cycles, one can see that peri- in near-equatorial latitudes and associated specific “cap ods of the Gondwana formation and the Iapetus open- carbonates” and rocks of iron formation, which are ing are overlapping, or that collision of Mongolian and indirectly connected with manifestations of mafic and North China terranes with Siberia took place at the time bimodal magmatism; in other words, with rifting and of Pangea’s breakup. Accordingly, there is nothing sur- mantle-plume characteristic of supercon- prising in the fact that the first indication of Rodinia’s tinental cycles (Khain, 2000; Condie et al., 2001). breakup appeared in South China already 40Ð60 Ma Critics of the hypothesis doubted the identification after the “ultimate” formation of this supercontinent. of rocks selected to prove the global rank of glaciations, In our opinion, thermal convection in the lower their synchronism, and the correctness of criteria used mantle could be the principal mechanism responsible to determine tectonic environments of sedimentation for Rodinia’s assembly and breakup. The counter sub- (Eyles and Januszczak, 2004). In the opinion of these duction of a cold lithosphere under Rodinia from the researchers, many of the Late Proterozoic reference side of the Mirovoi Ocean, the detachment of lithos- successions, which enclose glacial sediments, and their pheric slabs, and the thermal effect of screening a biogeochemical features can be interpreted in terms of supercontinental “blanket”—all these factors could tectonic conditions and events characterizing Rodinia’s have activated a superplume. Its daughter plumes pen- breakup instead of reference to the eustatic sea-level etrating into the lithosphere of Rodinia were capable of fluctuations in the global ocean. Of prime importance, triggering the breakup of supercontinents. Substantia- as they believe, were the intense rifting and associated tion of this scenario needs additional evidence regard- rising of rift “shoulders,” i.e., the emergence of tectonic ing the subduction settings confined to the perimeter of topography (”zipper-rift” hypothesis by Eyles and Jan-


270 BOGDANOVA et al. uszczak, 2004). This idea seems attractive in view of Rodinia’s breakup was associated with the activity the immense thickness (up to several kilometers) and of mantle plumes. rifting-related lithology of Neoproterozoic successions. Glaciations of Rodinia’s breakup period in the equa- The synchronism of glacial events in different con- torial zone could be either occasional, or genetically tinents has not always been proved. In many cases, gla- linked with the influence of certain factors. Reasons of cial deposits are dated a priori, e.g., with reference to global glaciations and important changes in the bio- excursions of composite trends characterizing secular sphere during the Late Neoproterozoic should be the ∆13C variations (Halvorsen et al., 2005) without being focus of subsequent research. checked by other radiometric methods (Meert, 2007). One more scenario of the Neoproterozoic glaciation was suggested based on paleomagnetic and geochrono- ACKNOWLEDGMENTS logical data obtained for rocks of the South China block We are grateful to all our colleagues who partici- and characterizing the period from 820 to 720 Ma pated in IGCP project 440 “Assembly and Breakup of (Li et al., 2004). Interpreting their results, the authors Rodinia” and organized scientific conferences on the postulated that the mantle superplume beneath north- problem, for their co-authorship in publications, fruit- western Rodinia, which was in high latitudes at that ful discussions, and friendly atmosphere of collabora- time, as they assumed, caused the redistribution of the tion. The Tectonics Special Research Center at the Uni- mantle’s masses and quick rotation of the mantle rela- versity of Western Australia in Perth was the base of the tive the Earth’s core. As a result, Rodinia arrived in the project from 1999 to 2005. equatorial zone approximately 750 Ma ago. The activ- We deeply mourn the untimely passing away of the ity of the mantle was concurrently declining against a initiators of the project Rafael Unrug (United States) background of high albedo of a still existing Rodinia and Chris M.A. Powell (Australia), and co-leader of the that caused a sharp decrease in the concentration of the project Henry Kampunzu (Botswana), who did not live atmospheric ëé2 and global cooling. The possibility of to see the project’s success. the postulated events in the mantle and associated glo- bal biogeochemical changes remains debatable (Meert, 1999; Tarduno and Smirnov, 2001; Evans, 2003; Lobk- Reviewers E.V. Sklyarov and M.A. Semikhatov ovsky et al., 2004). REFERENCES CONCLUSIONS 1. Yu. R. Bekker, V. Z. Negrutsa, and N. I. 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