Hypothetical former supercontinent in the Southern Hemisphere, which included modern North America, Europe, and Asia (except peninsular India). The concept that the continents were at one time joined was first set forth in detail by Alfred Wegener in 1912. He envisioned a single great landmass, Pangea, which supposedly began to separate early in the Jurassic Period (approximately 200 million to 146 million years ago). Subsequent research distinguished between a northern landmass, Laurasia, and Gondwana. Laurasia is thought to have fragmented into the present continents largely during the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Paleogene Period. Seealso continental drift.
Learn more about Laurasia with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Laurasia was a supercontinent that most recently existed as a part of the split of the Pangaean supercontinent in the late Mesozoic era. It included most of the landmasses which make up today's continents of the northern hemisphere, chiefly Laurentia (the name given to the North American craton), Baltica, Siberia, Kazakhstania, and the North China and East China cratons.
The name combines the names of Laurentia and Eurasia.
Siberia moved southwards and joined with Kazakhstania, a small continental region believed today to have been created during the Silurian by extensive volcanism. When these two continents joined together, Laurasia was nearly reformed, and by the beginning of the Triassic, the East China craton had rejoined the redeveloping Laurasia as it collided with Gondwana to form Pangaea. North China became, as it drifted southwards from near-Arctic latitudes, the last continent to join with Pangaea.