The Late Carboniferous is a time in Earth’s history when Pangea first was formed. Pangea is the most recent super continent, a land state where most dry land on Earth is all collected in a singular mass. There have been more than one of these, however Pangea was the last.

In this variation of Pangea, Siberia, China, and the Western portion of the United States are not yet directly connected. These all however would become connected in full in the late Triassic. As what goes up must come down, the super continent of Pangea started to break apart during the Jurassic. By the late Jurassic, the Atlantic Ocean started to open up. Africa and South America, still connected, started to separate from North America

Parks Township, 300 Million Years Ago

The map below shows the earth at 300 million years in the past. How can we know this for sure? The truth is, we don’t. But with lots of science work in the field of Paleomagnetism, very dedicated people have made some well researched predictions. Keep in mind this field is still young. Literal map changing discoveries happen often. While researching this topic, I found several conflicting maps.

Map showing the united states positioned below the equator with varying landmasses.
The United States 300 million years ago. The equator is represented as a red line and Pennsylvania is shown highlighted yellow. Redrawn by Clinton Godlesky based on maps produced by research from C. R. Scotese

The heart of Paleomagnetism involves making measurements of magnetic field alignments in dated rock beds. When lava forms, a magnetic field direction becomes locked in as it cools. Scientists in the field then collect, date, and measure the magnetic field direction. Upon determining the direction, the scientist deduces a position and records it.

It can be a difficult concept to grasp or even believe. Not widely accepted until the 1970’s, Plate tectonics have been researched for nearly 70 years prior. Measurements of rocks from both sides of the ocean along with exact fossil record matches help formulate the theory. Today, an extra 4 inches is added to the Atlantic ocean every passing year. North America and Africa are moving in opposite directions relative to each other.

Climate and Geography in a Carboniferous World

Climate is another large factor in determining what it was like in a world so long ago. In the Carboniferous specifically, the Earth was awash with Oxygen and the sea level changed frequently. For example, 323 million years ago, seas were at a very low level. Where was the water? Locked up as ice in the North and South poles. This exposed land masses and created wet swamps in low areas.

In Parks Township specifically, the Glenshaw Formation has several distinct limestone layers. Ancient seas moved inland during changes in climate. This climate is why the limestone layers formed. In a hillside, over 60 feet of elevation you can find both marine sea life fossils and land plants. Towering Lepidodendron trees were abundant at times. 500,000 years later you could find large cephalopods such as Solenocheilus swimming in a local shallow saltwater environment.

Another dimension to consider is geography. The mountains, seas, and placement of land was much different than it is today. For example, while the Sahara desert lies close to the same latitude as Guatemala, an arid desert dominates the landscape. Guatemala gets the same amount of sun, but doesn’t have moist ocean air to create a tropical landscape.

The Appalachian Mountains

Parks Townships rests within the Appalachian plateau. The plateau consists of uplifted land caused by the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. These mountains were first formed 480 million years ago, and existed at the center of Pangea. As North America and Africa rush away from each other in present day, they once were moving toward each other. The immense pressures and forces created as two continents collide create great mountain ranges and uplift. The mountain range was as impressive as the current day Rocky Mountains. However, erosion has reduced their once great stature.

References

This is a short list of references. I have more to collect.

Research Website of Christopher R. Scotese