Altitude

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Chart lining up Y-coordinate values (left) to block layers (right) (Not to scale).

Altitude is a measurement of vertical distance, or distance along the Y-axis.

Definition[edit]

Altitude is defined as "the height of anything above a given planetary reference plane, especially above sea level on earth."[1]

In Minecraft, altitude is commonly expressed as the number of block layers above the bottom of the game environment, which is layer zero (0). For instance, sea level is recognized as block layer 62, and clouds appear at layer 127.

Altitude may also be expressed as the bottom face of the block layer, the bottom most of which is at Y-coordinate 0, or Y=0. Sea level would appear at Y=63, and cloud level would appear at Y=128. The player can press F3 to see the Y-coordinate of the top face of the block on which they are standing.

Features and effects by height[edit]

Note: This list is projected from the highest to the lowest Y- level.
21024 ≈ 1.7976931348623 × 10308
Largest height Minecraft can distinguish from infinity, Java's Double.MAX_VALUE.[2]
255 = 36,028,797,018,963,968
Above this height, players cannot move vertically except using NBT editors.
252 = 4,503,599,627,370,496
Maximum height reachable by flying, the point where the Double datatype stops growing in steps of 0.5.
231 = 2,147,483,648
The game crashes beyond this point in Bedrock Edition.
30,000,000
The player is kicked from the world above this height.[3]
30,000,000
The maximum height of teleportation.
256
Top face of the highest block that can be placed.
100-150
Clouds.
128
Upper limit of Coal Ore generation. Build limit in the Nether for Bedrock Edition
127
Full bedrock layer in the Nether.
124-126
Partial bedrock layers in the Nether.
80
Upper limit of gold ore generation in badlands and variants.
70
Upper limit of slime spawn in swamps.
64
Upper limit of iron ore generation.
63
Sea level. Players must be above this level for phantoms to spawn.
50
Lower limit of slime spawn in swamps outside "slime chunks".
40
Upper limit of slime spawn in non-swamp biomes in "slime chunks".
32
Upper limit of lapis lazuli ore, emerald ore and (in non-badlands biomes) gold ore generation.
16
Upper limit of redstone ore and diamond ore generation.
1-4
Partial bedrock layers in the Overworld.
1-3
Partial bedrock layers in the Nether.
0
Full bedrock layer in the Overworld and the Nether. Top of the Void; bottom face of the lowest block that can be placed. Liquids stop flowing when they reach this point. Also, entities in Bedrock Edition take damage after this point.
−40
An invisible border appears here in Bedrock Edition, which can be bypassed by using /tp
−64
Players below this height take void damage (4♥♥ per 12 second) in Java Edition, even if in Creative mode. This damage cannot be prevented or mitigated, but commands can provide enough regeneration to survive it. Non-player entities falling below this height despawn instantly.
−30,000,000
Players below this height are kicked with an "invalid move player packet received" error. This can be fixed through external programs.

Limits in Bedrock Edition[edit]

The top of the game environment is layer 255, and the top face of the highest block that can be placed is at Y=256.

Image showing building limit

In Bedrock Edition, the player dies instantly if they fall below Y=-2, unless in Creative mode. In creative mode, the player can fall only into Y=-40,but can use /tp to lower. The height limit for building blocks is Y=256.

Natural resources and altitude[edit]

Clock JE2 BE2.gif
This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information.
The reason given is: The graphs in this section need to be updated to the current version. They currently represent Java Edition 1.5.1.
Please update this section to reflect recent updates or newly available information.

Features in the landscape of the Overworld are found at different altitudes, as shown in the graph below. There is also an interactive chart for Java Edition 1.2.2.

Block layers overworld 1.5.svg

Note that these charts utilize the logarithmic scale, which means a slight difference in the Y-coordinate represents a large change in the relative frequency of a block type.

Some observations:

  • Looking at water, the amount at layer 62 (sea level) is obvious. Moving down, the amount quickly decreases at layers 56 and 48, the usual depth of river and ocean biomes, respectively.
    • There are corresponding peaks in the amount of clay beneath them.
  • Between layers 33 and 12, most water is falling down sub-ocean ravines, spreading out on the lava-filled bottom at layer 10 and producing most of the naturally-occurring obsidian.
  • Ores and gravel (not shown) usually occur as a fixed percentage of the amount of stone (also not shown), tapering off at the ends of their allowed generation range.
    • This is why coal and iron follow parallel tracks between layers 5 and 60.
    • The one exception is lapis lazuli ore, which has a linear progression up to a peak at layers 13-14.

See the following table for a textual description of resources by altitude and tools needed to gather them.

Landscape feature Complete layer range[note 1] Most common layers[note 2] Tool needed to obtain
Coal ore 1-119 5-56 Wooden pickaxe or better
Gravel 1-126 5-56 Not required but faster with any shovel
Dirt
Grass block
Mycelium
Podzol
1-126 5-80 Not required but faster with any shovel

(Grass blocks, Podzol and Mycelium drop dirt when broken unless mined with a Silk Touch enchanted shovel)

Sand 2-112 43-63 Not required but faster with any shovel
Water 1-111 48-62 Bucket
Iron ore 1-63 2-58 Stone pickaxe or better
Gold ore 1-31, 1-100[note 3] 4-28 Iron pickaxe or better
Lapis lazuli ore 1-30 11-17 Stone pickaxe or better
Lava 1-85 4-10 Bucket
Emerald ore 4-31 5-29 Iron pickaxe or better
Diamond ore 1-15 4-13
Redstone ore[note 4]
Bedrock 0-4 0-2 Only breakable in Creative mode
  1. The range in which the block can be found in the map used for the graph.
  2. Layers in which the resources tend to be most numerous.
  3. In badlands
  4. Redstone has the same layer and line-size statistics as diamond, but is generated 8 times per chunk as opposed to 1.

Other naturally occurring features appear at different altitudes, but all of these features are random and appear only in conjunction with another block and the proper environment.

Landscape feature Requires
Grass Dirt/grass block and light
Sugar cane Dirt/grass block/sand and water
Log Dirt/grass block and light
Cactus Sand/red sand in desert and badlands
Flowers Dirt/grass block and light
Mushrooms Dry land and darkness
Clay Sand and near water
Obsidian Lava source and water
Cobblestone Lava and water
Seagrass Water
Pumpkin Grass block
Kelp Water in ocean
Dead bush Sand/red sand/terracotta/podzol in desert, badlands, and giant tree taiga
Magma block Lava and water in ocean.

The Nether[edit]

Clock JE2 BE2.gif
This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information.
The reason given is: Nether ores and blocks in the Nether Update
Please update this section to reflect recent updates or newly available information.

A similar graph, showing the distribution of blocks unique to the Nether (Java Edition 1.5.1):

Block layers nether 1.5.svg

Landscape feature Complete layer range Most common layers Implement needed to obtain
Netherrack

Crimson Nylium

Warped Nylium

1-126 4-123 Wooden pickaxe or better
Soul Sand 14-81 58-64 None
Soul soil 20-86 35-73
Glowstone 2-120 98-106
Basalt 20-120 35-115 Wooden pickaxe or better
Lava 4-123 16-32 Bucket
Gravel 60-65 62-64 Not required but faster with a shovel
Nether Quartz Ore 7-117 10-144 Wooden pickaxe or better
Nether Gold Ore 5-115 20-110 Wooden pickaxe or better
Ancient Debris 1-117 12-18 Diamond pickaxe or better
Bedrock 1-5 1-2 Only breakable in Creative mode
119-125 124-125

Video[edit]

History[edit]

A screenshot shown by Notch of an experimental 512-block-high world.
Java Edition Classic
?The altitude of the map was 64 blocks total. Players could build 32 blocks up or down from sea level.
Java Edition Infdev
Minecraft Infdev20100227Height limit now 128. However, during the development of this version, it was raised to 256.
Java Edition Beta
1.6Test Build 3Solid blocks can no longer be placed on layer 127. However, beds, signs, torches and other non-solid blocks can be placed on layer 127.
Entities are no longer invisible when above the build limit; instead, they turned black.
July 19, 2011Notch, on his Twitter feed before the Adventure Update, posted a picture showing his experimentation with height limits and terrain generation up to 512, featuring a mountain much higher than normal mountains.
1.8Pre-releaseThe player's view distance decreases in lower altitudes.
Previously, the sea level was at layer 64. Now, it is at layer 63. Worlds created before this update generate one-block-high "waterfalls" at the boundary between previously-generated terrain and new, post-Beta 1.8 terrain.
Java Edition
1.2.112w07aThe height limit was doubled from 127 to 255, though structures did not yet generate above this layer.
The change in height was introduced along with the switch from the Region file format to the new Anvil file format.
1.7.213w36aAmplified world type added (attempts to use the full 255 height).
1.1116w32aThe height limit message now appears on top of the hotbar, the place where the message "Press LSHIFT to dismount" also appears when riding a mob.
Pocket Edition
1.0.0alpha 0.17.0.1The height limit was doubled from 127 to 255, with the exception of the nether and old world type. However, terrain (except structures) generates only up to the old height limit.

Issues[edit]

Issues relating to "Altitude" are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.

Trivia[edit]

  • The highest possible altitude the player can legitimately climb to is Y=256, although explosions, elytra launchers, piston slime block bounces, and Riptide tridents can all propel the player far beyond this limit.
  • In Java Edition, mushrooms can appear on the nether's bedrock ceiling.[4]
  • Block generation and player construction below and above the build limits can only be achieved through mods, such as the Cubic Chunks mod.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Dictionary.com Unabridged, "altitude", accessed April 10, 2016
  2. MC-74776 – "Player unable to turn when at Y: Infinity" resolved as "Won't Fix"
  3. MC-123587
  4. MC-1381