The Atlantic jigsaw puzzle and the geoheritage of Angola

Jacobs, L. L., Schröder S., de Sousa N., Dixon R., Fiordalisi E., Marechal A., Mateus O., Nsungani P. C., Polcyn M. J., do Pereira G. C. R., Rochelle-Bates N., Schulp A. S., Scotese C. R., Sharp I., Silvano C. G., Swart R., & Vineyard D. P. (2024).  The Atlantic jigsaw puzzle and the geoheritage of Angola. Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 543, SP543-2022-301., Number 1


The jigsaw-puzzle fit of South America and Africa is an icon of plate tectonics and continental drift. Fieldwork in Angola since 2002 allows the correlation of onshore outcrops and offshore geophysical and well-core data in the context of rift, sag, salt, and post-salt drift phases of the opening of the central South Atlantic. These outcrops, ranging in age from >130 Ma to <71 Ma, record Early Cretaceous outpouring of the Etendeka-Paraná Large Igneous Province (Bero Volcanic Complex) and rifting, followed by continental carbonate and siliciclastic deposition (Tumbalunda Formation) during the sagging of the nascent central South Atlantic basin. By the Aptian, evaporation of sea water resulted in thick salt deposits (Bambata Formation), terminated by sea floor spreading. The Equatorial Atlantic Gateway began opening by the early Late Cretaceous (100 Ma) and allowed flow of currents between the North and South Atlantic, creating environmental conditions that heralded the introduction of marine reptiles. These dramatic outcrops are a unique element of geoheritage because they arguably comprise the most complete terrestrially exposed geological record of the puzzle-like icon of continental drift.



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