Chapter

Tectonics and Geomorphology of Africa during the Phanerozoic

Timothy C. Partridge

in Cenozoic Mammals of Africa

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780520257214
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945425 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257214.003.0001
Tectonics and Geomorphology of Africa during the Phanerozoic

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The Cenozoic evolution of Africa cannot be comprehended satisfactorily without reference to the early history of the Gondwana supercontinent and the events that occurred during and following its fragmentation. Gondwana first formed during the Neoproterozoic Pan-African-Brazilian orogeny (720–580 million years ago (Ma)). The closing of the Paleotethys gulf during the collision of Laurasia with Gondwana in the late Palaeozoic completed the growth phase. The volcanism that preceded rifting along both coasts of southern Africa had one particularly important consequence: a combination of thermal effects and magmatic underplating created a high “rim bulge” that resulted in the presence of significant coastal escarpments when separation occurred. This chapter discusses the impact of plate tectonics on Africa during the Phanerozoic. It chronicles the closing of the Neotethys to form the Mediterranean Sea when Arabia and Asia collided between 16.5 and 15 Ma. It also discusses the East African Rift System and its importance for paleontology, macroscale geomorphic evolution during the Cenozoic, African geomorphology and the African Surface, and the deserts of Africa.

Keywords: Africa; Phanerozoic; plate tectonics; deserts; geomorphology; African Surface; Gondwana; Cenozoic; volcanism; East African Rift System

Chapter.  11364 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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