Thu
Apr 10 2014 10:45am

I Just Lost Hours Reading This Geological History of Westeros

Game of Thrones geological history of Westeros

The Stanford geologists at Generation Anthropocene are my new favorite people. They recently assembled a presentation that extrapolates from clues in the books how the continent of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones came to be formed, from the salt flats of Dorne to the granite of Winterfell, and it is an exceptionally clever work that breathes new color into George R. R. Martin’s world.

They also nail down precisely how big the planet is—an attempt I made myself last year with less precise methods—figure out where the tectonic plates are, find missing volcanoes, and discover a period in the planet’s history where winter thoroughly won the fight.

Check out the full thing here. Don't fret over not knowing anything about geology. The writing in the presentation presents everything very clearly and concisely, allowing anyone to follow the progression of Westeros from southern hemispheric lump to its jagged current-day self. Here’s hoping they publish an update that folds Essos and the Known World into the mix!

10 comments
Brennan
1. brentodd
Click on the Iron Islands for the "hidden" bonus mentioned on the last page. =)
Chris Lough
2. TorChris
Yeee! Thank you, brent! I was wondering what the "can you find it 2000 MYA" thing was but couldn't find it.
jeremiah gaster
3. jer
My question is what then was the "doom of valeria" (sp?), was it a "recent' major geological change? or something else?
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
4. AlirozTheConfused
Look, not every fantasy planet has to have an earth-like lithosphere, gosh-dang it! Look at Venus and Mars.

Also, why the heck is there this geologic ridge between Essos and Westeros that completely fails to have any evidence of ever having being a plate triple junction? PLate Triple Junctions are extremely common, people.

And look, you're basing that on the spreading rate of the mid-antlantic ridge.

Also, as aperson who's studied Lake Bonneville for years, you guys really need to fix your research. Bonneville would evaporate and reform, that's normal. What messed it up was when it overflowed at Red Rock!

And seriously, you just assume that the chemical composition of westeros's continents are the same as on Earth. Why couldn't they have the iron like mars, eh? That totally changes the way subduction would occur.

There's more to understanding the motions of the plates than simple continental drift and subduction, you quacks!

And you don't account for the size difference and gravity difference! Even the small difference is important.

I'm sorry, but making a jigsaw puzzle of continents and mentioning evaporite deposits, mountains, rivers, and different types of stone and sediment are not enough.

NO NO NO, look, the red mountasins are not the appalachians. THe appalachians formed when three continents collided, not really by subduction as you claim. The morphology wouldn't be as you claim, it would be more like the tibetan plateau and the himilayas.

Venus has a very similar radius to earth and is completely different in lithography.

Goshadarn stanford hotshots, learn some real geology!
mutantalbinocrocodile
5. mutantalbinocrocodile
@4, you might want to consider whether the "Stanford hotshots" are playing an elaborate practical joke here. The earnest tone coupled with occasional blasts of lunacy strongly suggests a donnish parody of fandom. I found it utterly hilarious.
mutantalbinocrocodile
6. Ray Jr
A fun look at the geology of a fantastic place, lets not get too picky!
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
7. AlirozTheConfused
Okay, I can accept it as a practical joke.

It's just that a lot of people don't really know geology, and might not be able to tell a parody from a non-parody.

I mean, if Milankovitch cycles are as significant as Milankovitch claimed, then that throws a huge kink into projects like this. We'd need to know the axial obliquoy, eccentricity, axial processions and apsidal processions.

I'm fine with you guys having fun with this, but please know that this only really works on the level of jigsaw-puzzle continents and guessing collisions from mountain ranges; which is fine. I mean, Narnia is awesome and it didn't need to have a perfectly reasonable self-consistent geology.
mutantalbinocrocodile
8. mutantalbinocrocodile
Aliroz, did you see this little gem? The site is totally a practical joke TRYING to trap people who don't know geology into taking it seriously. I'll bet money the Stanford geology grad lounge was REALLY bored a few weeks ago and did this on a bet. Or a weird phone call to the office from a GRRM fan. Such things happen. But check out this classic of grad student humor:

As sea level fell, a large depression, like the mouth of a leviathan, isolated itself from the adjacent ocean. The result was an entrapped body of briny water exposed to the solar radiation (or perhaps to the heat of dragon’s breath, as we are unsure of the evolutionary history of dragons).
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
9. AlirozTheConfused
I've never been one for graduate humor (I'm not good at subtlety).

"As sea level fell, a large depression, like the mouth of a leviathan,
isolated itself from the adjacent ocean. The result was an entrapped
body of briny water exposed to the solar radiation (or perhaps to the
heat of dragon’s breath, as we are unsure of the evolutionary history of
dragons)."

Isolated itself from the adjacent ocean? But that's not what adjacent usually means. What, do you have some sort of fence between the oceans?
Anthony Pero
10. anthonypero
@Aliroz:

If its NOT a prank, they could extrapolate that the lithosphere formed like earth and not Venus or Mars, as well as the polar angle by the fact that humans evolved on that world EXACTLY like on earth. The size of the planet, its position relative to the sun, its eliptic, its geological composition would all have to be almost exactly like Earth for that to have occured.

But its most likely meant as a gag.

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