We created a tectonic animated map of a Game of Thrones landscape


Scientists are among the millions of die-hard Game of Thrones fans who absorb the show Conclusion today.

The stunning spectacle of Game of Thrones led some researchers to build Climate simulation Which explain the choppy seasons that were portrayed in the show, and illustrate the other seasons that are pulled together Geological history.

Inspired by this work, We built the first tectonic plate to reconstruct the Game of Thrones continents. Tectonic plates are moving plates that make up the outer layer of our planet, and they behave like transmission belts in the way they carry and pull continents around the surface.

Even in this fictional world of Game of Thrones, geological processes such as tectonic plate movement, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions were responsible for building mountains, carving rivers, and creating vast oceans.

Reconstruction of Westeros and Essos plate tectonics over a period of 600 million years in GPlates (www.gplates.org). Note the brown regions and mountains that appear when continents collide. And just as on Earth, Game of Thrones’ forest areas were only about 400 million years old, when the first plants began to colonize the continents.

Read more:
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Why solve tectonic “jigsaw puzzles”?

First, because even scientists are allowed to have some fun every now and then. But we also hope this map will help people better understand plate tectonics, which is fundamental to knowing our past, present, and even our future world.

Plate tectonics can help us define the context of climate change, and as in the Game of Thrones universe, Geological events can influence political and social history.

We built tectonic maps using a free community program called GPlatesThat we developed for Tectonic modeling in the real world At the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences.

The animation first shows our model of Westeros and Essos, but also how we use the same technology to build a detailed representation of Earth’s tectonic evolution. The same technology is also used by Hobbyist “planetary builders” Those who create cutting edge maps that can be used in computer games, movies, TV shows or other creative activities.

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Scene mode

There is no doubt High budget visual effects, The thrilling story and the power plays between the characters are fundamental to the success of Game of Thrones. But also the captivating geological places of the Seven Kingdoms.

Stunning cinematography across the vast grasslands of the Dothraki steppe to the snow-capped volcanic peaks north of the wall; Each site depicts contrasting terrain that formed vastly different communities.

Geology also teaches the story. For example, Dragonglass (volcanic igneous rock) and Valyrian steel are mined from the volcanic slopes around Dragonstone Castle.

How we made our map

In our daily work, we use the shapes of the continents and the geology that bear them to reconstruct how true “puzzle pieces” of Earth’s tectonic plates move over time.

On this project, we worked with the “evidence” that we and others had collected from the fictional universe of Game of Thrones. This included evidence of volcanic activity and mountain formation in the past, which often served as a smoke gun for the convergence and collision of tectonic plates.

Geology and tectonics in present-day Westeros and Essos. The red sawtooth lines represent “subduction zones” where tectonic plates converge, leading to the formation of mountains and volcanoes (such as the Andes).
Author modified cadei digital GIS files at www.cartographersguild.com

The easiest part of tectonic rebuilding is done by working backwards from the expanding sea floor, the continents being torn apart by our planet’s waving core.

In the case of the Games of Thrones world, we hypothesized that the continents of Westeros and Essos separated 25 million years ago to open up the Narrow Sea. We mapped this out a lot like decompressing the African continent along East Africa Rift Valley At a similar time.

But as we go deeper in time, we lose a lot of geological evidence. This happens due to corrosion, Continental collisions that build mountains And subduction, where one of the tectonic plates sinks beneath the other.

In the real world, even though India is now part of the Eurasian continent, an ancient sea route called the Tethys once separated them. Before the collision of the continents about 45 million years ago. The continental collision raised the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayas, while in the process crushing and destroying geological evidence and obscuring the subtle tectonic models of the region.

Tectonic reconstructions of our plates are due to The supercontinent Pangea 250 million years ago was somewhat accurate by undoing the spread of the sea floor, but restoring ancient supercontinents is much more difficult.

Knowing our planet

Plate tectonics ‘jigsaw puzzle’ models are essential to explaining the evolution and habitability of our planet.

Tectonic plates control the arrangement of continents and sea lanes on geological time scales, and they rearrange ocean circulation and global climate change.

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Although much of this geological activity is too slow to be perceived by humans, the geological past is replete with examples where Sudden geological “shocks” to living things on Earth Caused by massive flows of volcanic rock and carbon dioxide, sometimes leading to mass extinctions. This is possible Was a factor In the deaths of almost all dinosaurs.

Tectonic reconstructions can inform climate simulations and help us frame current and future climate change. They can also lead us to search Mineral deposits Probably Help create a low carbon society.

And it’s fun to play with.

Research assistants Sian Clinton Gray, Irene Kutsumpis, and Yusef Ibrahim contributed to the drawing and writing of this article.

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