Continental Configuration

Magnetic grains in rock record the position of the magnetic poles of the Earth at the time when igneous rocks are quenched or in metamorphic rocks heated to a 450 degrees Celsius then cooled.

Sedimentary rocks carry a weaker paleomagnetic signature. However, paleomagnetic data, biostratigraphic and lithostratigraphic correlations help geologists reconstruct early continental configurations.

Compare Neoproterozoic continental configurations (left) with Cambrian continental configuration (right). As in Triassic time, a supercontinent was breaking up.

Cambrian map modified from The Fossils of the Burgess Shale