3
$\begingroup$

In this world, the continents never split off from each other. They stayed connected into the one giant landmass called Pangea. Humanity developed on this supercontinent, separated by landmarks instead of oceans.

Given this scenario, it is logical to assume that fertile ground would only be near the water, limiting the amount of livable land to coastal areas. Farther inland would be arid, dry deserts where very little could grow, and hurting the possibility of civilizations flourishing. I want this supercontinent to have fertile, tropical areas inland instead of just by the coast. What is required to make this possible?

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You might like to validate your 'logical assumption that fertile ground would only be near the water'. I can think of no logical reason for this. You would have to make the argument that the climate was such that rainfall did not occur deep inland. Since you do not have plate tectonics, you do not have mountain ranges. No mountain ranges means no impediment to rain clouds moving deep inland. If you have water, nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen, you have earthly life. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Feb 4 '18 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ The interior of large continents tends to be arid, but this doesn't mean that all the interior is arid. It all depends on the actual geography. Zambia is in the middle of Africa and it's very fertile. The famous Fergana Valley is a coveted fertile area in Central Asia. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 4 '18 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify if indeed there is only one huge plate, or many smaller plates but permanently joined? $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Feb 4 '18 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ "the continents never split off from each other" might imply plate tectonics has stopped. The question might be tighter if you instead said something like "Humans just happened to evolve while all of the continents were joined..." $\endgroup$ – Spencer Feb 4 '18 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP: To add a few more examples, the Amazon Basin is in the middle of South America, and the Mississippi River & its tributaries in the middle of North America. California's Central Valley is pretty dry (especially if you factor out Sierra runoff), yet it's close to the coast, and South America's Atacama Desert is right on the coast. Precipitation is more about latitude and the distance from the rain shadow effect of mountains than about distance from the coast. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Feb 4 '18 at 19:30
2
$\begingroup$

I don't really understand your talk about fertility but I think you just want the large central areas not to be deserts?

Rain originally comes from the sea and the temperature of the sea has a large impact. Place the center of the continent on the equator so that it relies on rains from warm tropical ocean. You can boost this by creating a large Gulf on the western coast.

Hadley cells are also a thing. Placing the center on the equator is the main thing but you will want to keep on eye on what is where dry air descends as well. Simplest solution would probably just put an inland sea such as the Mediterranean in this "wasted" space. Just because you have a large continent does not mean all of it has to be above sea level. Alternately you can have water from North or South flow here. Or fill it with mountains.

Rain shadows from mountains also matter. You do not want large coastal mountains that could stop the rains from going inland. Realistically, if your continents have been stuck together more less permanently, which seems to be your idea, the mountains will have eroded. Maybe you can have the coastal mountains off-shore as islands creating nice inland seas? Or you could have an inland sea inside the coastal mountains connected to the ocean by straits.

Where water goes is also important. Central Asia took a long time to dry out because water flowed to large salt lakes and the trapped moisture amplified monsoons bringing in seasonal rains. Less water is removed from the center by rivers, less water rains need to bring in to keep it "fertile". So maybe have large areas of the continent drain to large salt lakes?

A Pangaea that does not have a central desert would probably have powerful monsoons. And that is a plural. A monsoon is a seasonal pattern so it probably is not that strong in the equatorial center but it would be a big help keeping Northern and Southern areas wet, if they are large enough.

The bottom line is that fertility depends on the climate and that depends on what geography you give your continents. Not just on a single variable such as continent size.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Bad assumptions

The highest state in per capita farm production is Iowa; which is 1300 miles from the nearest ocean. The Canadian grain belt in Saskatchewan and Alberta is about the same distance from the Pacific. The Fergana Valley in Central Asia was historically a fertile agriculural region for 4000 years; it is 1700 miles from the Indian Ocean. The fertile Samara Oblast in Russia is 1300 miles from the Black Sea. A over fifty million peasant farmers toil in the Sichuan basin in China; Chengdu is 1100 km from the South China Sea. If you eat a burger at McDonalds, your are getting beef from the Mato Grosso in Brazil; that is 1400 miles from the Atlantic.

All in all, there are plenty of productive agricultural regions 1000 km plus from the sea. Even on a supercontinent, don't worry about too much.

If you are still worried, just add more inland seas. The Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas are good examples that bring oceanic moisture to places that would otherwise be far from an ocean proper.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Also on a supercontinent you could still have plate tectonics, but the plates pressing together and thus keeping thus keeping the big land mass from falling apart. Whereever this is happening, you would have volcanic activity, mountains folding upwards. With volcanic activity comes very fertile soil and with mountains come snow and the origins for rivers which can make the inner parts of your continent quite habitable.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ this depends on which plates bonk together; volcanoes tend to happen when oceanic crusts take a dive under continental, and the resulting volcanoes tend to hug the coast. continental on continental leads to the Himalayas which are somewhat lacking in volcanism (good stuff might erode off them...) $\endgroup$ – user40071 Feb 4 '18 at 16:53
0
$\begingroup$

Hurricanes bring tropical weather inland. The southeastern United States is an example where regular hurricanes and seasonal flooding create a lush environment. Thanks to wide open, flat plain between mountain ranges, it is like a bowling alley for tropical storms. Of course they don't remain hurricanes for long but they dump considerable amounts of water each year.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Have fossil matter and minerals come into play.

The most fertile region have soils composed of ashes from (previously erupted) volcanoes, forest mucus produced by decomposing plants (found in jungles) ; bogs are also areas with very fertile soils due to the various minerals composing them.

Finally, grubbing was a much-used technique throughout the ages to make soils more fertile through human action.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

As has been stated, soil health and fertility is more reliant on soil composition than it is on location, although location obviously plays a part in composition. Organic matter is a huge part of soil health, and can be achieved in the long term by the decay of other life forms enriching the soil. Also, an important part of soil health is what happens under the surface. Root structures from plants like grass keeps the soil from blowing away, and activity from things like worms and other insects burrowing allows for good soil aeration and water permeability which is important for plant growth.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy