Scientists are among the millions of die-hard Game of Thrones fans who are processing the final of the show today.
The striking landscape of Game of Thrones has led some researchers to prepare climate simulations describing the capricious seasons depicted in the show, and others to merge geological history.
Inspired by this work, we have built the first plate of tectonic reconstruction of the Game of Thrones continents.
Tectonic plates are moving plates that form the outermost layer of our planet, and behave like conveyors in the way they wear and drag continents around on the surface.
Even in this imaginative Game of Thrones world, geological processes such as tectonic plate movements, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions would have been responsible for building the mountains, cutting the rivers and creating vast oceans.
Tectonic plates are moving plates that form the outermost layer of our planet, and behave like conveyors in the way they wear and drag continents around on the surface. The map shows the different types of landscapes in the fictional world
Why tectonic & # 39; jigsaw puzzles & # 39; to resolve?
Firstly, because even scientists can sometimes have a little fun. But we also hope that this map helps people to better understand the science of plate tectonics, which is essential for us in knowing our past, present and even future world.
Plate tectonics can help us contextualize climate change and, as in the Game of Thrones world, geological events can influence political and social history.
We have built the tectonic maps using free community software, called GPlates, that we have developed for real-world tectonic modeling at the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney.
The animation first shows our model for Westeros and Essos, but also how we use the same technology to make a detailed representation of the earthly tectonic evolution.
The same technology is also used by hobbyist & # 39; planet builders & # 39; that develop developing cards that can be used in computer games, movies and TV shows, or other creative pursuits.
Even in this imaginative Game of Thrones world, geological processes such as tectonic plate movements, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions would have been responsible for building the mountains, cutting the rivers and creating vast oceans, the researchers say
In this project the researchers worked with & # 39; evidence & # 39; that was collected by us and others from the fictional world of Game of Thrones. Kings Landing is shown above
Set the scene
There is no doubt that high-budget visual effects, a moving storyline and power-play between characters are important ingredients for the success of Game of Thrones.
But that also applies to the enchanting geological environment of the Seven Kingdoms.
The breathtaking cinematography of the vast grasslands of the Dothraki steppe to the snow-covered volcanic peaks north of the Wall; any location with a contrasting topography that has formed enormously different societies.
Geology also informs the storyline. For example, the very important Dragonglass (volcanic obsidian rock) and Valyrian steel is extracted from the volcanic rocks around the Dragonstone castle.
How we made our map
In our daily work we use the forms of continents and the geology they carry to reconstruct how real tectonic plates & # 39; puzzle pieces & # 39; moved around the earth over time.
In this project we worked with & # 39; proof & # 39; that was collected by us and others from the fictional world of Game of Thrones.
This included evidence of past volcanism and mountaineering, which is often the smoking cannon for tectonic plate convergence and collision.
The simplest part of the tectonic reconstruction takes place by working back from the spread of the seabed, where continents have been torn apart by the swirling interior of our planet.
The animation first shows the model for Westeros and Essos, but the same technology is also used to make a detailed representation of the tectonic evolution of the earth.
The researchers assumed that the continents of Westeros and Essos broke up 25 million years ago to open the narrow sea. Geology informs the storyline, the researchers explain
In the case of the Games of Thrones world, we assumed that the continents of Westeros and Essos broke up 25 million years ago to open the narrow sea.
We have mapped this out, just like unzipping the African continent along the East African Rift Valley at a similar time.
But as we go deeper in time, we lose a lot of geological evidence.
This happens because of erosion, continental collisions that salvage and subduction salvage, with one tectonic plate sinking under another.
In the real world, although India is now part of the Eurasian continent, an ancient sea, the Tethys, once separated them before the continents clashed about 45 million years ago.
The continental collision elevates the Tibetan plateau and Himalayas, while at the same time crushing and destroying geological evidence and obscuring accurate tectonic models of the region.
Our plate tectonic reconstructions back to the Pangea supercontinent 250 million years ago are fairly accurate due to the seabed spreading, but the restoration of older supercontinents is much more difficult.
Know our planet
The models of the & # 39; jigsaw puzzles & # 39; of the tectonic plate are vital for explaining the evolution and viability of our planet.
Plate tectonics checks the arrangement of continents and seaways on geological time scales, rearranges ocean circulation and changes the global climate.
There is no doubt that high-budget visual effects, a moving storyline and power-play between characters are important ingredients for the success of Game of Thrones. But the same goes for the fascinating geological institutions of the Seven Kingdoms, the researchers explain
Although much of this geological activity is too slow to be perceived by humans, the geological past is littered with examples in which sudden geological & # 39; shocks & # 39; for the living things on earth are caused by massive outpouring of volcanic rock and carbon dioxide, sometimes leading to mass extinction.
This may have been a factor in the deaths of almost all dinosaurs.
Tectonic reconstructions can inform climate simulations and help us to put current and future climate change in context.
They can also lead us to mineral deposits that can help create a low-carbon society. And they are fun to play with.
WHAT ARE TECTONIC PLATES?
Tectonic plates are composed of earth's crust and the upper part of the mantle.
Below is the asthenosphere: the warm, viscous rock conveyor on which tectonic plates run.
The earth has fifteen tectonic plates (pictured) that together have shaped the shape of the landscape that we see around us today
Earthquakes usually occur at the borders of tectonic plates, where one plate falls below the other, pushes another up, or where the plate edges scrape next to each other.
Earthquakes rarely occur in the center of plates, but they can happen when old faults or fractures are reactivated far below the surface.
These areas are relatively weak compared to the surrounding plate and can easily slip and cause an earthquake.
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