The title says it all. Imagine a superearthquake that would split a Pangaea-like supercontinent (with roughly the same size and land distribution) in half in just a few days / weeks, making them a few miles apart.

I'm not expecting people on the epicenter of the catastrophe to survive. But would people on the edges of the supercontinent be able to survive such an event?

  • $\begingroup$ What's the technology level? if you'll add more details, I could add some details to my answer. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 29 '16 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ It would be a medieval tecnology level. Also, the inhabitants shouldn't be expecting the calamity. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel May 29 '16 at 22:09

Why not?

Of course, speed would be great, buildings would collapse etc. But before each big earthquake, there are some shakes. In an event this big, it would be big shakes. It would scare people out from their houses. Especially in rural areas, there would be many survivors. Not all in good shape, perhaps, but alive.

Just not on the edges. Waves would be more deadly than anything in such event. Somewhere in the middle, far enough from both epicenter and tsunami.

  • $\begingroup$ The centre of super continents are far from the oceans and moist air, and are likely to be uninhabitable deserts. This was the case with Pangaea, which straddled the equator. The coasts of supercontinents are therefore the most liveable real estate. Think Australia, only much, much bigger. $\endgroup$ – John May 29 '16 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ @John And the point is? There are farms in Australia that are pretty much halfway between coast and center. So there would be people in place of best survival chances. All i wrote is consistent with your comment as far as I see, so what's the problem? Also, OP didn't respond to my clarification request. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 29 '16 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ The point is that the centre of these continents will be very arid and inhospitable, much more so than Australia. Therefore, there will be few people there if any, and those probably reliant on outside supply and support to remain there. It's a fair point, no need to get defensive, surely? $\endgroup$ – John May 29 '16 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @John if you want OP to change how he defined his continent, you should comment his question. For now, there are people living in the centre of his imaginary continent. And this means there is no uninhabitable wasteland you are describing. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 29 '16 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ I'm still wondering about where to put the cities, according to the answers to this question. The centre of the continent would be equatorial and the entire continent would be relatively flat. From what I read here, I'm feeling tempted to put some rural areas not too coastal and not too inland. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel May 29 '16 at 22:14

I would say, No

Any geological even af this magnitude would be very unlikely to happen without massive vulcanic activity and vulcanic activity on this scale would cover the earth with ashen clouds and send temperatures plummeting. The ash spreading from the erruptions would also be speckled with tiny shards of glass and anybody inhaling too much of that would end up choking on their own blood.

Anybody surviving through the first couple of weeks would starve or freeze to death.

So yea, no survivors, no people and very few if any land animals. Even plantlife would mostly die. Possibly some life forms in the sea, but no bigger ones. Very terrible. Don't do this at home.

If you want this to happen without major vulcanic activity you should considder having it happen over a longer scope of time.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. My question was directed at the short-term, meaning if it would be possible for people to survive the event itself. But I'll have to consider the long-term consequences of the aftermath... $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel Jun 12 '16 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ @PedroGabriel if your short term is a couple of days, then yes, people might still be alive after a couple of days. You should have a look at things written about the Siberian Traps and then considder that even though the Siberian Traps were a long term event they took place at a much smaller area of land than what you are proposing. Actually, looking at the Siberian Traps now makes me question if people would not be killed off within hours of the event :/ terrible things. $\endgroup$ – Martine Votvik Jun 12 '16 at 19:58

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