Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

K. Burke


A Permo-Triassic reconstruction of western Pangea (North America, South America, Africa) is proposed that is characterized by: 1) definition of the North Atlantic fit by matching of marginal offsets (fracture zones) along the opposing margins, 2) a South Atlantic fit that is tighter than the Bullard fit and that is achieved by treating Africa as two plates astride the Benue Trough and related structures during the Cretaceous, 3) complete closure of the Proto-Atlantic Ocean between North and South America, accomplished by placing the Yucatan block between the Ouachita Mountains and Venezuela, 4) a proposed Hercynian suture zone that separates zones of foreland thrusting from zones of arc-related magmatic activity; to the northwest of this suture lie the Chortis block and Mexico and most of North America, and to the southeast of this suture lie South America, the Yucatan block, Florida and Africa, and 5) satisfaction of paleomagnetic data from North America, South America and Africa. Beginning with the proposed reconstruction, the relative motion history of South America with respect to North America is defined using the finite difference method. Within the framework provided by the proposed relative motion history, an evolutionary model for the development of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region is outlined in a series of 13 plate boundary reconstructions at various time intervals from the Jurassic to the present. The model includes: 1) formation of the Gulf of Mexico by 140ma, 2) Pacific provenance of the Caribbean plate through the North America-South America gap during Cretaceous time, 3) Paleocene-Early Eocene back-arc spreading origin for the Yucatan Basin, whereby Cuba is the frontal arc and the Nicaragua Rise-Jamaica is the remnant arc, and 4) 1400 km of post-Eocene cumulative offset along both the Northern and Southern Caribbean Plate Boundary Zones, allowing grandiose eastward migration of the Caribbean plate with respect to the North and South American plates.


Pindell, J.L., 1981. Permo-Triassic reconstruction of Western Pangea and the evolution of the Gulf of Mexico-Caribbean region. Unpublished MSc. thesis, State University of New York at Albany. 121 pp., +xi
University at Albany Science Library call number: SCIENCE Oversize (*) QE 40 Z899 1981 P56