Is the following map fairly realistic? It is of a small continent, connected to a larger one, at a Europe like position on the globe.

Topographical Map

This is the continent in topographical map form, it also includes major rivers. There is a scale in the lower right (because of the format that isn't actually a centimeter) The large line at the bottom is this worlds 30th parallel or 30 degrees north.

My next question will be concerning the climate of the map. and following that, the geopolitical boundaries.

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    $\begingroup$ Your title suggests this is a small-scale map. That central landmass is about 700 miles wide at its widest. That's 50% the width of the United States. The mountain ranges feel oversized to me (in width). You might consider comparing your map to the western half of the U.S. to see if the mountain ranges are scaled closer to the Rockies and Sierra Nevadas. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 23 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @ShadoCat. We need to know 1. if this continent is on a single tectonic plate, or two (the gulf suggests at least two, maybe three minor plates, to me?) and 2. what direction the plate(s?) are moving. Without that, "possible but unlikely" is a good summarization. $\endgroup$ – KernelOfChaos Jan 31 at 1:25

These rivers here look quite odd.

enter image description here

Usually a river starts on a high end, like around the peak of some mountain, then flows to the sea carving a valley in the mountains.

The rivers you have on the map starts already in a valley, and cut through the mountain range, not across. I would expect that they took the path going either to the East or to the West, rather than going South along the mountain range.

  • $\begingroup$ Indeed. The east-west river at the top looks odd as well. Its flowing to the east across a broad, low plain and then goes uphill as it approaches the eastern coast. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jan 23 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. Got it, work on the rivers. Thank you! $\endgroup$ – The Imperial Jan 23 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ Rivers do cut through mountain ranges. For example, the Columbia River cutting through the Cascade Range. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 23 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ I'm quite positive that I can exemplify real rivers which do what the rivers in this map do. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 23 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Agreed that rivers 'can' cut through parts of mountain ranges, but it's relatively rare. The issue with this map is that it doesn't seem rare enough. A single unique example, maybe 2, sure. But too many of these rivers have similar issues. While not impossible, those river issues make the map less believable. $\endgroup$ – Dalila Jan 23 at 19:19

First, mountains are the results of the clash of the crustal plates. Without seeing the larger world picture, what I see looks possible but not likely. That doesn't rule out this map. Earth is full of unlikely formations.

@L.Dutch mentioned, rivers begin at mountains and very, very rarely cut through them. Water flows downhill. The steeper the incline the straighter the river.

However, what caught my attention first was the central valley. that area would likely be dry planes or desert. The air loses its pressure as it rises up a mountain and can't hold as much moisture. Thus, it rains on the windward side of the mountain. The air on the leeward side is much dryer. If the area between the West and the East ranges was lower than the land to the north, you might have rivers feeding a lake/marsh area there but the water has to come from somewhere.

If the winds were from East to West and the Eastern range is fairly short, you could probably get this effect but you would likely lose the green bit on the West coast where the two Western ranges meet.

If you want realism:

  • Make mountain ranges
  • Determine how old the ranges are. Newer ranges are sharper and older ones rounder (look at the US Western and Eastern mountains)
  • Determine how they affect the prevailing winds
  • Decide where the rain falls
  • Decide where the rain goes (usually to an ocean unless it goes to a flat spot where it evaporates)
  • Lay out vegetation based on availability of water and soil. Soil is in flat spots and all over older mountains.
  • $\begingroup$ Not quite true about the mountain range/desert thing. Compare the middle of North America: you have a rain shadow to the east of the Rockies, but as you move further east towards the Appalachians, the climate becomes much wetter, due (I think) to moisture coming from north and south. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 24 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf, yes but the two ranges seem to be pretty close together. Yes, you could get a wind eddy that blows north (most likely) or south. However, you then have to justify the wind diversion. I suppose that a prevailing wind out of the East and a very high western mountain range could do it. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Jan 24 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking more of winds off that gulf to the south, much as the southern US gets a lot of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. But that's just a guess: the only way to get a reasonably definitive answer would be to build a climate model. Wonder if EdGCM could do it? edgcm.columbia.edu $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 24 at 18:44

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