Laurasia (IPAEng|lɔˈreɪʃiə, lɔˈreɪʒə [OED] ) was a supercontinent that most recently existed as a part of the split of the Pangaean supercontinent in the late Mesozoic era. It included most of the landmasses which make up today's continents of the northern hemisphere, chiefly Laurentia (the name given to the North American craton), Baltica, Siberia, Kazakhstania, and the North China and East China cratons.

The name combines the names of Laurentia and Eurasia.


Although Laurasia is known as a Mesozoic phenomenon, today it is believed that the "same" continents that formed the later Laurasia also existed as a coherent supercontinent after the breakup of Rodinia around 1 billion years ago. To avoid confusion with the Mesozoic continent, this is referred to as Proto-Laurasia. It is believed that Laurasia did not break up again before it recombined with the southern continents to form the late Precambrian supercontinent of Pannotia, which remained until the early Cambrian. Laurasia was assembled, then broken up, due to the actions of plate tectonics, continental drift and seafloor spreading.

Break up and reformation

During the Cambrian, Laurasia was largely located in equatorial latitudes and began to break up, with North China and Siberia drifting into latitudes further north than those occupied by continents during the previous 500 million years. By the Devonian, North China was located near the Arctic Circle and it remained the northernmost land in the world during the Carboniferous Ice Age between 300 and 280 million years ago. There is no evidence, though, for any large scale Carbonifeous glaciation of the northern continents. This cold period saw the re-joining of Laurentia and Baltica with the formation of the Appalachian Mountains and the vast coal deposits which are today a mainstay of the economy of such regions as West Virginia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Siberia moved southwards and joined with Kazakhstania, a small continental region believed today to have been created during the Silurian by extensive volcanism. When these two continents joined together, Laurasia was nearly reformed, and by the beginning of the Triassic, the East China craton had rejoined the redeveloping Laurasia as it collided with Gondwana to form Pangaea. North China became, as it drifted southwards from near-Arctic latitudes, the last continent to join with Pangaea.

Final split

Around 200 million years ago, Pangaea started to break-up. Between eastern North America and northwest Africa, a new ocean formed - the Atlantic Ocean, even though Greenland (attached to North America) and Europe were still joined together. The separation of Europe and Greenland occurred around 60 million years ago (in the Paleocene). Laurasia finally divided into the continents after which it is named: "Laurentia" (now North America) and "Eurasia" (excluding India and Arabia).

See also

* Alexander du Toit
* Alfred Wegener
* Avalonia


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Laurasia — und Gondwana vor dem Zerfall Pangaeas – Antarktika, Indien und Australien zeigen bereits Ablösungstendenz von Westgondwana, die Riftzone zwischen Afrika und Südamerika bildet sich – 200 mya – während der Wende Trias – Jura Laurasia (von …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Laurasia — es el nombre dado a una antigua masa de tierra del hemisferio norte surgida de la desintegración del supercontinente Pangea en el periodo mesozoico tardío. Laurasia se dividió en Eurasia y América del Norte hace unos 200 millones de años. ●… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Laurasia —   [zu Laurentia und Asien], Geologie: Urkontinent auf der Nordhalbkugel (Nordamerika, Europa, Nordasien), der seit dem Jura zum Teil auseinander driftete. (Kontinentalverschiebung) …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Laurasia — 1931; see LAURENTIAN (Cf. Laurentian) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Laurasia — [lô rā′zhə, lô rā′shə] [ LAUR(ENTIAN) + (EUR)ASIA] the Mesozoic landmass in the Northern Hemisphere that included what are now North America and Eurasia: it and Gondwana were the result of the splitting of Pangea …   English World dictionary

  • Laurasia — /law ray zheuh, sheuh/, n. Geol. a hypothetical landmass in the Northern Hemisphere near the end of the Paleozoic Era: split apart to form North America and Eurasia. Cf. Gondwana. [1930 35; b. LAURENTIAN (def. 2) and EURASIA] * * * Hypothetical… …   Universalium

  • Laurasia — Carte des terres émergées au Trias. La Laurasia ou Laurasie est un supercontinent qui se sépara du reste de la Pangée (appelé dès lors Gondwana) durant le Mésozoïque. La Laurasia se divise à son tour en Eurasie et Amérique du Nord il y a environ… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Laurasia — Una interpretación de la fase temprana de separación de Laurasia y Gondwana. Laurasia es el nombre dado a una antigua masa de tierra del hemisferio norte surgida hacia el final del Jurásico de la desintegración del supercontinente Pangea,… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Laurasia — geographical name hypothetical land area believed to have once connected the landmasses of the northern hemisphere except for the Indian subcontinent …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Laurasia — noun A supercontinent including most of the landmasses which make up todays continents of the northern hemisphere …   Wiktionary

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