Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Nicholas Arndt
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_662-3



Gondwana (originally Gondwanaland) is the supercontinent composed of the land masses of the present-day southern hemisphere (Africa, South America, Australia, and Antarctica, together with India and Arabia). Together with its northern counterpart, Laurasia, Gondwana comprised almost all of present-day continental crust. Between about 500 and 200 Ma, Gondwana and Laurasia together formed part of a single supercontinent, Pangea. Breakup started 180–200 Ma ago when Gondwana split from Laurasia. It accelerated about 170 Ma ago when Antarctica, Madagascar, India, and Australia began to separate from Africa, and the Atlantic Ocean progressively opened to separate South America from Africa. The correlation of geological features and fossils on both sides of the Atlantic provided convincing evidence of continental drift and eventually plate tectonics.


Austrian geologist Eduard Suess named Gondwana after a region in northern India (from Sanskrit gondavana...


Bioorganic Chemistry Atlantic Ocean Southern Hemisphere Continental Crust Convincing Evidence 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maison des GéosciencesLGCA, Université J. FourierSt-Martin d’HèresFrance