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Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific$
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Patrick D. Nunn

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832193

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832193.001.0001

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Ancient Continents Hidden by Time

Ancient Continents Hidden by Time

(p.62) 4 Ancient Continents Hidden by Time
Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific

Patrick D. Nunn

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses two continents that have been suggested to have once existed in the Pacific. One has indeed become hidden (Laurentia); fragments of the other (Pacifica), if it ever really existed, may lie hidden beneath the ocean surface. Scientists believe that Laurentia is an ancestor of the modern continent of North America. From northern Canada to Georgia in the south, and from Greenland in the east to Wyoming in the west is hidden the ancient Paleozoic continent of the Pacific. The continent vanished from the Pacific Ocean and became, overlain and hidden by younger rocks, part of the continental frame of the modern Pacific Basin. Pacifica was originally part of Gondwana, the southern part of Pangea, that had separated from the northern part (Laurasia) by about 200 million years ago. Gondwana itself then began breaking up, with the Pacifica section moving away into the Pacific from the New Guinea–New Zealand border of Gondwana about 180 million years ago. Later, Pacifica itself began disaggregating, with various fragments being carried northwest where they collided with the East Asian continental margin, to the east where they collided with the western margin of South America, and to the northeast where they are found today along the western seaboard of North America, from Alaska to California.

Keywords:   vanished continents, Pacific Islands, Pacific Basin, Laurentia, Pacifica

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