Inspired by the Ordnance Survey (Britain's mapping agency), The British Geological Survey (BGS) initially reproduced a 2D geology of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands within the world of Minecraft. Initial map data showed the surface and the rough position of real geology beneath, repeated down to the bedrock. In reality, the geology varies with depth, like cake layers.
In July, BGS took another step into the world of Minecraft by creating three-dimensional representations of geology at locations across the UK. They show how the geology rises and falls, overlaps and folds at different depths. You are now able to see the rocks beneath north London, the soils that were deposited by ancient glaciers in York and how the ground is dissected by faults beneath the hilly slopes of Ingleborough.
The Minecraft team at BGS used the freely available 3D geological models to convert the true richness of the subterranean landscape into coloured glass Minecraft blocks. The translucency of the blocks enables the player to see through the different geological units, which allows for a better understanding of how the layers of geology are arranged.
To play along, you need a licenced copy of Minecraft, 6 GB of free disk space (the world is approximately 5.4 GB) and more than 4 GB of RAM. The starting point of the Minecraft world begins at the BGS Cardiff office - sign posts around you will help you get started exploring.
Prof Iain Stewart, Professor of Geosciences Communication at Plymouth University tested the Minecraft 3D mod at the BGS Open Day, “This is what we geologists always have in our minds when we map and model the rocks of the UK, this is a fantastic tool for young people to see the interaction between the above and below ground.”
Rosie Wildman, age 8, had the opportunity to give it a go ““It’s really cool. You can find your way around the world and see what it’s like underground” Watch out for more worlds being released in the coming weeks, and play along here.