The Naked Elements

A tale of two men and geology on the roof of the world

by Miles Traer

Still from John Noel’s 1924 film “The Epic of Everest” (copyright John Noel) showing the tiny figures of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine’s team as they prepared for the summit attempt.

Part I – Onto the Mountain

I’m sitting in a warm room wearing flannel pajamas with a hot meal in my belly when the title card on the movie fades and the 90-year-old film begins to flicker.  The circular aperture is neatly divided along a diagonal line: the top featureless white, the bottom textured rough and grey – both ghostly.  Darker striations run across the grey, further broken by white snow that looks like a child’s finger painting flecked with white and black dots.  It’s only after several seconds that I notice that a few flecks of black are moving along the border between the white and grey, moving higher along the diagonal.  Another title card appears and informs me that these tiny flecks are men, and the striated and speckled grey is Mount Everest as she appeared in 1924, on the eve of one of the most famous disappearances in mountaineering history. Continue reading

The geology of Game of Thrones

Image Map

This is Westeros as it exists in the days of tumult, in the days following the death of King Robert Baratheon, in the shortening days that warn that winter is coming.  But this is also the geologic history of Westeros, reaching far deeper through the annals of time than the reign of any of the Seven Kingdoms.  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.  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).  To explore the history, and to view our maps of the geologic reconstructions, click the numbered icons on the map, or on the links below.

Geologic events occurring XX million years ago (Mya) on Westeros:
(today) The size of the Game of Thrones planet
(25 Mya) The Earth split Westeros from Essos
(30-40 Mya) When Dorne boiled
(40 Mya) Land of ice
(60-80 Mya) The rise of the Black Mountains
(80-100 Mya) As the Moon rose, so did the Lannisters
(300 Mya) Diving the tropical reefs of Winterfell
(450 Mya) The sand ran red
(500 Mya) The first mountains
(2,000 Mya) Can you find it?

Attributions:
The geologic map of Westeros was created by Miles Traer.  The geologic history of Westeros was written by Miles Traer with the help of Mike Osborne.  Additional scientific details were provided by Hari Mix.  Game of Thrones is copyrighted by George R.R. Martin.

Acknowledgements:
All of the maps created for this project are based on maps created by Jonathan Roberts, Tear, and theMountainGoat.  Certain artistic details (such as mountain ranges) have been copied and adapted to suit the needs of the geologic reconstructions.  Without these detailed and artfully drawn maps, little of this project would have been possible.  Many details regarding the history of Westeros and the various rock types found on the continent are provided by “A Wiki of Ice and Fire.”

Building the geologic history of Game of Thrones

Ever wonder what Westeros looked like long before the Starks, Baratheons, Lannisters, or Targaryens roamed its surface?  How far back can we really imagine the history of the Game of Thrones planet?  According to Generation Anthropocene producer Miles Traer, we can look back through 500 million years of history if we apply geologic principles learned here on Earth, and a little imagination.  He has even made a detailed geologic map to prove it.  In this episode, producer Mike Osborne talks with Miles and gives a brief tour of the map, details how it was pieced together, and explains why the project isn’t quite as ridiculous as it seems.  So brandish your swords, tame your dragons, and stay well clear of the white walkers as we explore the geology of Game of Thrones.


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Behind the scenes at the IPCC

The 5th report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is being released, so Gen Anthro is breaking the hiatus to bring you a special episode. These two back-to-back interviews are with Chris Field and Thomas Stocker. Both scientists hold high-level positions within the IPCC. They cast light on the current state of climate science, the inner workings of the IPCC, and, as always, a bit on the Anthropocene.


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