Pangaea is the supercontinental landmass recognized by geologists to have been separated by plate tectonic activity. Previous plate tectonic collisions welded other continental masses together to form Pangaea.

Evidence including paleomagnetism and the correlation of unique geologic features indicates that Pangaea began to break apart about 200 million years ago. Two east‐west trending rift zones separated Pangaea into two parts: to the north, Laurasia (North America and Eurasia) and to the south, Gondwanaland (modern‐day South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica). The rifting event was marked by a huge outpouring of basaltic lava flows. After 20 million years of rifting, these two land masses were separated by narrow oceans formed by the inpouring of the Tethys Sea (including the newborn Atlantic Ocean). During the Jurassic period, about 135 million years ago, more rifting began to fragment the two land masses into the continents we know today. By 65 million years ago, the mid‐Atlantic oceanic ridge and associated transform faulting was well developed, South America had fully separated from Africa, and North America was beginning to drift from Europe.