Carboniferous paleogeographic, phytogeographic, and paleoclimatic reconstructions Academic Article uri icon


  • Two revised paleogeographic reconstructions of the Visean and Westphalian C-D stages are presented based on recent paleomagnetic, phytogeographic, stratigraphic, and tectonic data. These data change the positions of some continental blocks, and allow the definition of several new ones. The most important modifications that have been incorporated in these reconstructions are: (1) a proposed isthmus linking North America and Siberia across the Bering Strait; and (2) the separation of China and Southeast Asia in six major blocks, including South China, North China, Shan Thai-Malaya, Indochina, Qangtang, and Tarim blocks. Evidence is presented that suggests that at least the South China, Shan Thai-Malaya, and Qangtang blocks were derived from the northern margin of Gondwana. Multivariate statistical analysis of phytogeographic data from the middle and late Paleozoic allow definition of a number of different phytogeographic units for four time intervals: (1) the Early Devonian, (2) Tournaisian-early Visean, (3) Visean, and (4) late Visean-early Namurian A. Pre-late Visean-early Namurian A floral assemblages from South China show affinities with northern Gondwana floras suggesting a southerly position and provides additional support for our reconstruction of South China against the northern margin of Gondwana. There is a marked decrease in the diversity of phytogeographic units in the Namurian and younger Carboniferous. This correlates closely with the time of assembly of most of Pangaea. The general pattern of Carboniferous phytogeographic units corresponds well with global distribution of continents shown on our paleogeographic reconstructions. In addition, we have constructed paleoclimatic maps for the two Carboniferous time intervals. These maps stress the distribution of rainfall, as this should be strongly correlated with the floras. There is marked change in the rainfall patterns between the Visean and Westphalian C-D. This change corresponds with the closing of the Appalachian-Ouachita ocean between Laurussia and Gondwana, and reflects the removal of a low-latitude moisture source that probably gave rise to monsoonal conditions along the northern margin of Gondwana in the Visean and earlier times. As well, the presence of a substantial heat source at high elevation in the Late Carboniferous significantly influenced the distribution of climatic belts. 1986.

published proceedings

  • International Journal of Coal Geology

author list (cited authors)

  • Rowley, D. B., Raymond, A., Parrish, J. T., Lottes, A. L., Scotese, C. R., & Ziegler, A. M.

citation count

  • 140

complete list of authors

  • Rowley, David B||Raymond, Anne||Parrish, Judith Totman||Lottes, Ann L||Scotese, Christopher R||Ziegler, Alfred M

publication date

  • January 1985