Late Carboniferous: A Time of Great Coal Swamps

late carboniferous

During the Late Carboniferous and Early Permian the southern regions of Pangaea (southern South America and southern Africa, Antarctica, India, southern India, and Australia) were glaciated. Evidence of a north polar ice cap in eastern Siberia during the Late Permian has been found. The broad Central Pangaea mountain range formed an equatorial highland that during late Carboniferous was the locus of coal production in an equatorial rainy belt. By the mid-Permian, the Central Pangaea mountain range had moved northward into drier climates and the interior of North America and Northern Europe became desert-like as the continued uplift of the mountain range blocked moisture-laden equatorial winds.

The term "Pangaea" means "all land". Though we call the super-continent that formed at the end of the Paleozoic Era, "Pangaea", this super-continent probably did not include all the landmasses that existed at that time. In the eastern hemisphere, on either side of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean, there were continents that were separated from the super-continent. These continents were North and South China, and a long "windshield-wiper"-shaped continent known as Cimmeria.

Cimmeria consisted of parts of Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, Indochina and Malaya. It appears to have rifted away from the Indo-Australian margin of Gondwana during the Late Carboniferous - Early Permian. Together with the Chinese continents, Cimmeria moved northwards towards Eurasia, ultimately colliding along the southern margin of Siberia during the late Triassic Period. It was only after the collision of these Asian fragments that all the world's landmasses were joined together in a super-continent deserving of the name "Pangaea".

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