UK’s Ancient Underground Terrain Built in Minecraft
London's underbelly and ancient underground faults are all now viewable in scientifically accurate Minecraft form.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) has been working on the venture after its first foray into Minecraft-map making last year, when it released a surface map of the UK to build on Britain's Minecraft Ordnance Survey. That effort looked at the UK's peaks and troughs, from Ben Nevis to the ancient volcanoes dotted across Scotland.
The new version gives an awesome sense of scale of the geology beneath our feet, using data from BGS 3D "groundhog" models, geology models and topology data from the OS VectorMap District. Significant roads and buildings have been kept in so viewers can find points of interest more easily before delving below ground by accessing a second model.
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There are only a few locations across the UK that offer the models, including London, West Thurrock, York and Ingleborough, but they've been carefully selected to showcase what the British isles has to offer, from the soils deposited long ago by glaciers in York to the ground dissected by faults in the hills of Ingleborough.
The Minecraft rocks were chosen according to colour, texture and hardness, to match them up with the real thing used in BGS models. But for the most striking 3D models, the glass blocks were used.
"When exploring under the ground in Minecraft most blocks are solid and don't allow you to see through them," explains the BGS on its site, where the models can be downloaded. "When experimenting with these 3D Minecraft worlds we discovered that by using glass blocks the player could see the true extent of the geology straight away.
"This allows the player to explore the true three dimensional models and learn more about the geology beneath their feet."
Interestingly, professor of Geosciences Communication at Plymouth University Iain Stewart, who tested the system at a BGS Open Day, commented that, "this is what we geologists always have in our minds when we map and model the rocks of the UK," suggesting these professional scientists have always dreamt in Minecraft when envisaging the vast swathes of land they study.