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Geology of thrones: Elaborate maps of Westeros over eons

"Game of Thrones" often feels like it's set in a real world. Feed the illusion with these fascinating geologic maps created by Stanford researchers.

Westeros map
One slice of a "Game of Thrones" geology map. Generation Anthropocene

You're walking to Winterfell. Take a moment to ponder the geology under your feet. You're strolling across ancient limestone deposits. You know this because you've studied the geologic maps created by Stanford researchers with an obvious love of the "Game of Thrones" series.

"We pieced this geologic history together from character observations, town names, official Game of Thrones maps, and the principles of geology learned here on Earth," the researchers wrote in a blog post earlier this week. "Using only limited data we were able to reimagine 500 million years of planetary evolution, including volcanoes, continents rising from the oceans, and ice ages (with guest appearance by white walkers and dragons)."

The maps appear on the Generation Anthropocene blog run by current and former Stanford students and teachers. The geologic romp starts with a map of the realm at the time when the books start, but it's merely a jumping-off point for detailed looks into topics like the size of the "Game of Thrones" planet, the split between Westeros and Essos, and the rise of the Black Mountains.

According to the calculations, the "Game of Thrones" planet is slightly larger that Earth, but shares a lot of similarities with our home planet. Dorne was once submerged under a shallow sea, which eventually left behind the Salt Shore. The researchers even entertain the theory that dragons may have been responsible for the sea boiling away.

There's plenty here for both "Game of Thrones" geeks and geology geeks alike, with enough in-jokes to entertain you throughout the entire study. We learn, for example, that wildlings make gathering samples difficult. Who knows how many Stanford geology students might have been lost beyond The Wall. We should be grateful for the sacrifices they've made in order to further our understanding of the geology of Westeros.