Episodic continental growth and supercontinents: A mantle avalanche connection?

Kent C. Condie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

664 Citations (Scopus)


Episodic growth of continental crust and supercontinents at 2.7, 1.9, and 1.2 Ga may be caused by superevents in the mantle as descending slabs pile up at the 660-km seismic discontinuity and then catastrophically sink into the lower mantle. Superevents, in turn, may comprise three or four events, each of 50-80 My duration, and each of which may reflect slab avalanches at different locations and times along the 660-km discontinuity. Superplume events in the late Paleozoic and Mid-Cretaceous may have been caused by minor slab avalanches as the 660-km discontinuity became more permeable to the passage of slabs with time. The total duration of a superevent cycle decreases with time reflecting the cooling of the mantle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Continental crust
  • Mantle
  • Models
  • Plate tectonics
  • Slabs


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