In my world, the Straits of Gibraltar have been closed during a post-apocalyptic glacial period and the Mediterranean is isolated from the oceans. The result is similar to the Messinian salinity crisis but less extreme, with the sea level reaching equilibrium somewhere around -400m. This leaves much of the Adriatic and Aegean basins dry, and extensive new land around Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia.

What advantages and challenges would these new lowland and/or coastal regions present to human settlers? I imagine that salt deposits, soil quality, topography, micro-climates, and exposed shipwrecks would all play a role in encouraging or deterring activity. What might these areas look like as the sea recedes, and how would the landscape change over the centuries once exposed?

Keep in mind that the overall climate of the region would be similar to that of the last glacial maximum, and the humans have no modern technology.

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    $\begingroup$ And don't forget that the climate and accessibility of the former coastal regions also changes. $\endgroup$
    – user3106
    May 26, 2016 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ Such a complicated question, but have you looked in to the case of the Aral Sea. It's not the same situation I know but I'd imagine there'll be a lot of similarities regarding challenges that people face. This is from a real life disaster which would make it a useful case study. $\endgroup$
    – lzl
    May 26, 2016 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'm thinking Holland may be instructive. $\endgroup$
    – The Nate
    May 26, 2016 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


exposed shipwrecks ... and the humans have no modern technology

These exposed shipwrecks would likely serve as more-than-decent shelters for any civilization attempting to survive in this harsh, post-apocalyptic world. Not only that, depending on the era from which the ship was manufactured, there could be technology available for inquisitive individuals to analyze and potentially make use of. Furthermore, there may be a good deal of available scrap-metal, pipes, well-preserved wood, glass, and other "advanced" materials for these humans to take advantage of and use in their everyday survival. Albeit, the metals would be rusty, and the wood rotted (potentially, or even petrified wood which could be very useful as well) a rusty spear is better than nothing. There may also be other technologies aboard these wrecks, such as some electronics equipment or clothing.

salt deposits

If history were to repeat itself, any civilization with access to spices such as salts would have a good trading resource, of course, this depends on the number of your civilizations residing on the coastal shores. Salt is also very good for curing meats for preservation, allowing a civilization to store food for the harsher winter months in this world, where food may be unlikely to survive under the new circumstances.

soil quality

The soil quality of these exposed coastal areas would likely be too poor and salty for many plants to survive, before accounting for the changed climate.

landscape change over the centuries once exposed

This would require a more expert answer, but the exposed seabed would likely resemble that of now-coastal deserts (irl) over many centuries, and the high salt content could potentially produce salt-flats.


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