PGAP Activities Permian Jurassic Movies, Slideshows and Maps Publications Recent Abstracts (full text) About our Data Links



About the Atlas Project

We interpret paleogeography broadly to include all aspects of map reconstruction from paleo-continental orientations and tectonic considerations to the delineation of past topographic or bathymetric contours and the compilation of lithofacies data. In addition we use the reconstructions as base information for studies of past fossil distributions, and for climatic or oceanographic patterns as determined from the fossils, the sediments and from computer modeling studies. Our team has worked since the plate tectonic paradigm was introduced to compile information mainly from the literature on all aspects of global paleogeography. Moreover, we have pioneered the application of computer technology to paleogeographic map-making.

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The Paleogeographic Atlas Project in 2001
PGAP Publications (with links to abstracts)
Jurassic slideshow sampler (QuickTime)
Permian slideshow sampler (QuickTime)
Paleogeographic Maps (downloadable pdf files)


Successive paleogeographic maps often look very similar, just because continents move slowly in geologic time, mountains are uplifted gradually and shorelines generally do not advance or retreat significantly when viewed on a world scale. Animations are therefore necessary to bring out these subtle changes, and computer graphics are ideal for this purpose. Animations showing the general flow of the continental blocks through long intervals of geologic time are straightforward because the paleomagnetic information on the latitude and orientation of plates is reasonably well understood. Detailed paleogeographic maps, showing paleo-shorelines, and other paleogeographic contours are more problematic since depicting these accurately on closely spaced time steps is tedious and fraught with uncertainty. Nonetheless we have prepared a number of animations based on our detailed paleogeographic maps, and more are planned.

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Earth Through Time: 290 Ma to Recent
North Atlantic Paleogeography
North American Paleogeography
Florida Paleogeography
Permian Water Masses

Examples of our work

We have tackled a great variety of problems using paleogeography, including global climate change, biogeographic distributions and resource prediction. Patterns in fossil floras are useful in detecting global change because they are expressive of temperature and precipitation changes. "Icehouse" climates typical of the Early Permian have well developed floral gradients like today while "Hothouse" conditions like the Jurassic show greater uniformity with plant productivity highest in the mid to high latitudes. We have also examined biogeographic patterns in diverse groups, ranging from dinosaurs to ammonoids to determine the limiting effects of climatic zonation and biogeographic barriers on geographic distributions. Resources such as oil source rocks, phosphorites and coals form in very specific paleogeographic and climatic settings, and we have used these regularities as a predictive tool. The approach is to determine the appropriate conditions for a specific resource on a map, to superimpose on this the known occurrences of that resource as a test of the prediction and, if confirmation is observed, to examine the map for other prospective areas.

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Paleoclimate data and model comparisons
Permian geography, vegetation and climates
'The real Jurassic park'
About our data

Contact Addresses and Links

Fred Ziegler ( paleogeography, paleoclimates
Allister Rees ( paleobotany, paleoclimates
David Rowley ( tectonics, map reconstructions

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Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago
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PGAP Activities Permian Jurassic Movies, Slideshows and Maps Publications Recent Abstracts (full text) About our Data Links

Web site designed and constructed by Allister Rees. This web site and all its contents are copyright 2001 The Paleogeographic Atlas Project. All rights reserved.