Date of this Version
The supercontinent Pangea dominated our planet from the Permian into the Jurassic. Paleomagnetic reconstructions have been used to estimate the latitudinal position of Pangea during this 100-million-year period. Atmospheric circulation, recorded by eolian sandstones in the southwestern United States, shows a broad sweep of northeasterly winds over their northernmost extent, curving to become northwesterly in the south. This evidence is consistent with paleomagnetic reconstructions of the region straddling the equator in the Early Permian but is at odds with its northward movement to about 20°N by the Early Jurassic. At least one of the following scenarios must be true: the latitude based on paleomagnetism is incorrect; the interpretation of how winds shaped the dunes is mistaken; the basic climate controls in the Jurassic were different from those of today; or the paleogeographic reconstructions available are insufficient to adequately reproduce the wind fields responsible for dune formation.