Pangea Breakup and Continental Drift,  animation

This is a special "flat earth" version of the drift of the continents, starting from the breakup of the Super-continent Pangea about 200 million years ago. The continents were hand flattened by Atwater such that they are recognizable and they fit together in both their Pangean and present-day configurations.

The motivation of this construction is to depict the breakup and drift of rigid pieces, while obviating common problems with other depictions. (In the most common depiction, the earth's surface is flattened via some projection such as the Mercator projection. Unfortunately, in these projections, drifting pieces artificially change size and shape. Other versions show rigid pieces moving around the surface of the globe, but since you can only see one side, they keep drifting out of view.)

There are two versions of the movie: 1) with plain continents and 2) with continents that include the deformation of southern Eurasia driven by its continental collisions. The first is best for a basic introduction to Pangea and continental drift. The second is more fun, but definitely distracting from the most basic story.

To view these movies, click on their images.


Download: Pangea movies (22 MB)


Drawn and animated in Photoshop, Morph, and Final Cut by Tanya Atwater (earlier versions by Ian MacMillan and Grace Giles using Flash).


Comments on this and all of the materials offered on this site are welcomed: atwater@geol.ucsb.edu