Download PDF

Pangaea mass

We’ve got a new video online!

This video tip explains a simple way to simulate continental drift by creating a “Pangaea” type proto-globe, and “growing your continents” from that basis.  

This is an easy method to model some big earth-shaping geological processes. It’s great how-to for map-makers, writers of fiction and game designers who want a rational geological basis for how their fictional world looks.  If you have ever wondered if the position of continents on your world makes sense, or if you  prefer that your final world map has some basis in reality, this is worth checking out.

 Incidentally, this is a fun project to do with kids if you want them involved in designing a world, because the “moving continental plates” part of this is like a grade-school art project or something. You’ll see what I mean if you watch the vid. In any case, it’s an easy point of entry to get kids into building a world from the ground up, and if you’re so inclined, also offers a lot of teachable moments about geology and geography along the way.

This video also complements Geo Tip #9 in our free weekly world-building tip series. (If you’re not getting our tips yet, sign up here to get free tips, how-to, and more from the World Building Academy.)

If you like this, please share with friends with the social buttons below.  When time allows, I will probably add a worksheet to accompany this video, too, so do be sure to check back here in the future. (If you’re on the WBA list, you’ll be notified when that worksheet is online.)

14 Responses to Build Your World with Continental Drift (Video)

  1. […] by this post by Deborah Christian on World Builder’s Academy and Random’s post on Reddit, I’ve […]

  2. […] by this post by Deborah Christian on World Builder’s Academy and Random’s post on Reddit, I’ve […]

  3. I testing ideas… I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

    By the way, I have the same problem with the Follow Us tab. I’m viewing your site on an iPad, so it’s probably a problem encountered by anyone with a narrow viewing window.

    • Teramis Teramis says:

      Thanks for the comments, Thorfin.
      More and more people are viewing this site on mobile devices and everyone seems to be having probs with that particular widget. I’m going to get rid of it next cycle of web maintenance I do.

  4. Monny says:

    Hi, I really enjoyed your video. I started to do a world of my own using this method and it is turning out to be interesting and quite fun. Looking forward to having a much more believable world in my fiction series. Thank you!

    • Teramis Teramis says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! If you haven’t done so yet, you might also like to sign up for the mailing list. You’ll get free world building tips on an ongoing basis that way.

  5. Very interesting.

    I suppose that if you took a lot of snapshots (like you did at the end) you could make a number of maps that show the ages of the world.

    But I wonder about the mountains. You showed that mountains were created by continents bumping together. Would that mean that a Pangea-like super continent would have absolutely no mountains? If that is the case, I guess you would get a radically different environment (based mostly on what would grow on a flat continent). I wonder if you would get rain without mountains to help form clouds. Maybe the super continent would be a super desert.

    • Teramis Teramis says:

      What I’ve seen of recreated Pangaea maps suggest the terrain was hilly, possibly “low mountain”-ish in places–like with the dried mud analogy I use in the video, the surface crust does not form flat but itself has ridges, valleys, and changes in elevation. But yes, I think a Pangaea world would be much more “rolling hills and valleys” in general than mountainous, until, at leas, some plate movement happens (either collision or subduction), at which point mountain-forming processes begin. There is also erosion to consider, which can create relative heights by virtue of exposing substrata and washing away topsoil.

  6. I can see that this might be kinda fun, but it surely isn’t necessary for world-building. I just try to find an interesting map, perhaps something that can be scaled up immensely from what it is (e.g. the Falkland Islands scaled as continents).

    • Teramis Teramis says:

      Exactly. As I say in the video, you can just draw a map (or of course, find one somewhere). I also say you don’t need to do this to create a world. But if someone wants to “grow” their planet from the ground up, this is one approach to do so. It is, of course, entirely optional, and is probably overkill for most world builders. On the other hand, it can be a fun project, and is also a good way to get kids involved in the process (offering a lot of teachable moments about geology and so on).

  7. […] the World Building Academy blog, so if you want more info text-wise I will simply link you to that blog post on building your world with continental drift. However, for your viewing convenience, I’m […]

  8. Just Passing Through says:

    Your “Follow Us” tab covers the text I’m trying to read. Very frustrating.

    • Teramis Teramis says:

      The theme I am using has a wide margin to the left and right of the column of text. The followme tab resides in that margin, beyond the sidebars, and does not, by design, cover any text. If this is what you are experiencing I suggest trying to view this in a different browser. In the alternative, you might check to see if your own browser is set to display zoomed-in text; that will override the normal margin widths on a screen display, and push things under the followme tab that would not ordinarily display there.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: