If you have been following this project you will know that I am attempting to develop a mod for the popular video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
The mod is meant to be educational – but not in a conventional sense. I want people to play it and not feel like they are being forced to learn something, rather for people to play it because they want to and in the process of the game realise that there is something useful here.
For more information on this project and its background check out my initial post, my set at Science Showoff and also where I am hosting the project over at Dark Creations - with a detailed project outline.
I have now completed the initial mapping of the province of Skyrim in the continent of Tamriel. I did this using the immensely helpful UESP map which details the locations of the major types of ore veins to be found in Skyrim. The most common ore veins (in order of abundance) are iron, corundum, ornichalcum, quicksilver, silver, moonstone and malachite. Malachite unfortunately barely even occurs on the UESP map as it is found in so few places, so I have not included it in this map.
The map here is very rough. It is hard to get accurate locations from one map to another, but I have tried my best. This means that every location is likely to be relatively inaccurate. In addition, because of the nature of geologically mapping a hypothetical location, there is not much possibility of identifying ‘contacts’ between different rock types.
Why are ‘contacts’ so important? The location that two or more rock types are in contact with each other is crucial for mapping in the field. It is through identification of contacts between rocks that geologists are able to define where a body of rock is below the surface. In nature you will see exposures of rocks at the surface – when you are walking along and you see some rock sticking out of the grass that is obviously part of the hill you are walking on, or a road that has cut away at the rock around it. These rocks don’t just occur there though. The rock goes below the ground where you can’t see it, and the purpose of geological mapping is to find out where the rock is below the surface. If you know where the rocks are below the surface this is one of the keys to understanding how they got there.
To do this requires an understanding of the type of rock you are looking at – is it hard or soft – which will determine whether you are likely to see it on a hill or on flat land. Contacts between one rock and another provide definite boundaries that you can mark off on your map and are one of the most important pieces of information for geologists in the field.
We can’t do this on the Skyrim map because 1) it is imaginary 2) the scale of the maps means that this kind of observation is difficult 3) I am not going to spend hours and hours in Skyrim looking at rocks and veins which ultimately, because it is imaginary, won’t have a beautiful contact visible there and 4) I would rather spend my time in Skyrim plundering ruins, killing dragons and doing cool quests.
And of course,when I come to develop a storyline around the geology of the area, the geology will need to be simplified – and because this is a game and imaginary I am allowed a certain amount of creative license!
I have grouped where one or more ore locations of the same type can be found into ‘blobs’ that you can see on the map. Each blob is colour coded to represent a specific ore.
Red = iron
Blue = corundum
Purple = ornichalcum
White = quicksilver
Grey = silver
Yellow = moonstone
Above is the map I have created with the locations of various types of ores (blobs drawn on over the coloured contour map). It might be difficult to see, so I recommend clicking on it and trying to zoom in. Unfortunately, when you get to this level of detail on the map of Skyrim, there is less consistency in the geological data. However, this was to be expected.
What I now aim to do is open this project up a bit to other geologists out there who I know are interested in mapping Skyrim. I would like to call on your expertise to come up with hypotheses about the geological evolution of Skyrim. I am going to leave you the option to try to come up with something highly accurate, or to use your own artistic license in interpreting this geology to develop a hypothesis that makes sense but also includes some fun and interesting geological processes. I will not determine how the particular rocks/minerals mapped here were formed, because I would like to leave this open to geologists’ own interpretations.
Leave your ideas in the comments below (or you can always email me at janeliz.robb at gmail.com) and I will collate them together and see what I think would be most suitable for making into a storyline for a new quest in Skyrim. For this, I will take into account the simplicity of the geological evolution if the area – I want to make something that is simple and easy to create a geological map of and that allows the creation of a viable new mineral that can be mined. Once a final hypothesis has been determined, I will write a post that describes this in a simple way for others who don’t know about geology to keep up to date with the project.
So, have a bit of fun with it and let me know your ideas!