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Scientist Determines the Geology of Westeros

A Song of Ice and Fire is more than just a high fantasy. Over the course of the book series and the development of the Game of Thrones television series, author George R.R. Martin has created a rich world that sometimes feels as if it has just as much history as Earth. Martin has gone to great pains to detail past events throughout the series and worked with illustrators to create maps showing every river and mountain across the land. There’s plenty to research, and scientist Miles Traer dug into several resources to create the geologic history of Westeros.

At Generation Anthropocene, Traer shares a geologic map (part of which is pictured above) and theories on topics such as when and how the Red Mountains formed. He pieced the puzzle together with help from Mike Osborne and Hari Mix and stated they used “character observations, town names, official Game of Thrones maps, and the principles of geology learned here on Earth” to flesh out their theories. They took that limited data and imagined 500 million years of evolution on Westeros. It’s glorious.

If you’re worried about the subject matter being dry, don’t be. Even if exploring geologic history isn’t your thing, reading about Traer’s reasoning and extrapolations is engaging. I applaud anyone who takes their fandom to this level.

HT: Boing Boing

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11 comments

  • I once tweeted to Neil DeGrasse Tyson asking what sort of solar system would account for such long, seemingly random-length seasons. Now I’m also wondering how they developed any sort of a calendar in Westeros – how do you know when it’s your name-day? I realize, of course, that the answer is ‘because it drives the story’ but it’s fun to think about

  • I commend anyone who puts this much effort towards what is, ultimately, a work of fiction. I love how GRRM’s work is such a detailed piece that it’s worth an academic using this as a hypothetical.

  • James – I imagine at some point they likely set some kind of calendar based on human development, since the winters and summers vary so wildly. My best guess, admittedly.

  • My thoughts on the random seasons would be that it was a world that had no moon, or too small of a moon like Mars. Our moon stabilizes us… but Mars wobbles and wobbles like that would create random seasons or that’s my very non expert guess

  • It is also possible that their orbit could be an Elliptic loop, and also perhaps having a longer orbit. One orbit by Mars takes almost two years. The narrow parts of the loop could travel closer to the Star allowing for a longer Summer, while the ends of the loop, being so far from the Star, would account for the longer Winters.

    However, it still does not account for the inconsistency in the length of the seasons, or when they start/stop. As every cycle should take place at the same time, and be of the same length. The show has already mentioned on several occasions that some summers and winters have lasted longer than others.

    Regardless of the length of the loop, or its relative distance from the Star, it should travel at a constant rate, on a constant path. Since I am not an Astrophysicist, I cannot explain the situations where, if any, there would be a variation to this rule. I would love Neil or anyone to undertake this and explain.

  • From what I read of the books, there isn’t a possible scientific explanation based on observations of our universe. Perhaps if their sun orbited the plant irregularly, combined with a slow rotation of the planet itself. OR, wait for it….. magic.

  • I too would like to see a solar model that would account for the varying seasons to be decades long. And if something is a decade long, you have accountable years to make that decade, it doesn’t matter if their years are longer or shorter, they seem to be consistent. So the orbit of Westeros/planet shouldn’t really have an effect on the seasons. Unless the planet also moved in another dimensional plane, as it orbits the sun over several years (think like the threads of a screw orbiting the central core) but I don’t know how this complex orbit would come to be, although I guess there would have to be an additional gravitational body (a black hole perhaps)??

    Or the simpler answer, it’s a very wobbly planet (the years stay the same length, as the orbit around the sun doesn’t change) but the planetary wobble is enough to change the degree of the rotational axis?

  • The long winter could have nothing at all to do with their planet’s orbit. If the thermal currents of their seas are unstable, they could be prone occasional mini Ice Ages. Could be that the drowned God holds more power than people realise :-)

  • Maybe it’s a multiple star system. It’s in a close orbit around one of the stars. When one of the other stars near, it is summer. When the other stars are all distant, winter comes.