Scientists believe Pangea broke up for the same reason the plates move today. The movement is caused by the convection currents rolling over the upper zone of the mantle. This movement in the mantle causes the plates to move slowly across the Earth’s surface.
Pangaea began to disintegrate about 200 million years ago in the same way it formed: by tectonic plate movements caused by mantle convection. Just as Pangea was formed by the movement of new material away from rift zones, new material also caused the supercontinent to separate.
Pangaea began to break up about 250 million years ago. However, it was only the latest in a long line of supercontinents to form on Earth, as the drifting continents repeatedly converged in a cycle lasting about 500 million years end-to-end. So right now we are in the middle of the current cycle.
Wegener suggested that perhaps the rotation of the Earth caused the continents to move towards and away from each other. (It doesn’t.) Today we know that the continents rest on massive slabs of rock called tectonic plates. The plates are constantly moving and interacting in a process called plate tectonics.
In 1912, German scientist Alfred Wegener proposed a theory he called continental drift. According to Wegener’s theory, the continents of the earth once formed a single vast landmass, which he named Pangea. Over millions of years, Pangea slowly broke apart, eventually forming the continents they are today.