Desert belts merge in Pangaean time

Across the Phanerozoic, the larger deserts were generally tied  two climate belts that were maintained by sub-tropical (Hadley Cell) positions and separated by a tropical equatorial belt. But at the time of Pangaea (mid Permian to Jurassic) when the world had a single landmass (supercontinent) the two subtropical belts merged into a single arid to hyperarid zone across the continental interior. This is seen in two reconstructions of the Pangaean supercontinent, the first some 290 Ma, shows ice sheets at the southern pole and a well-developed tropical corridor indicated by climate-sensitive deposits (bauxites and coals) separating the two subtropical (Hadley cell) regions. The second reconstruction of the mega-monsoonal Pangaea, some 255 Ma, showing the lack of tropical sediment indicators outside the region surrounding the Panthalssian ocean located to the east of the main supercontinent land mass. At that time, the interior of the supercontinent was typified by an arid to hyperarid desert belt extending all the way across the equatorial zone (the palaeoclimatic reconstructions of the Pangaean Supercontinent are redrafted and replotted from Boucot et al. 2013, and the Scotese PaleoAtlas and mounted in GPlates 2.0. see Salty Matters blog, Feb 28, 2017 for more details)

 

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