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, and the Y-coordinate of their eyes, which are located about 1.6 blocks above their feet. For example, a player standing at sea level will see the Y-coordinate of their eyes as approximately 64.6.

Limits[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. In the New Nintendo 3DS Edition, the top is instead at Y=128.[2]

Image showing building limit

The maximum height the player can reach by flying is Y=2^52. The height where the player loses the ability to fall is Y=2^55. After this limit, the player can only move using a NBT Editor. The maximum height a player can reach is Y=2^1024. Beyond this limit, the game will read the player's Y altitude as 'infinity'. It is impossible for the player to turn, at these heights.[3]

The highest achievable height in Legacy Console Edition is Y=511 due to an invisible wall in the overworld and the nether. In the end, however, this limit is infinite. The height limit for building blocks is Y=256, similar to Java Edition. The height minimum is Y=2, as you cannot break the last bedrock layer, even in Creative Mode.

As of the current version, the maximum number that a player can teleport to is 4096.

In contrast, any player who falls below the altitude of Y=-64 will receive 4 (Heart.svgHeart.svg) damage every half second and eventually die, even in Creative mode and Spectator mode.

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

Natural resources and altitude[edit]

This section needs updating. Description: The graphs in this section need to be updated to the current version.

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

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 0-114 5-66 Wooden pickaxe or better
Gravel 1-115 5-56 Not required

but faster with any shovel

Dirt
Grass block
Mycelium
0-126 5-80 Not required

but faster with any shovel

(Grass Blocks 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 4-29 Iron pickaxe or better
Lapis lazuli ore 1-30 11-17 Stone pickaxe or better
Lava 1-85 4-10 Bucket
Emerald ore 4-32 4-29 Iron pickaxe or better
Diamond ore 1-15 4-13 Iron pickaxe or better
Redstone ore[note 3] 1-15 4-13 Iron pickaxe or better
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. 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 will only appear in conjunction with another block and the proper environment.

Landscape feature Requires
Grass Block Dirt/grass block and light
Sugar cane Dirt/grass block/sand and water
Wood Dirt and light
Cactus Sand
Flowers Dirt and light
Mushrooms Dry land and darkness
Clay Sand
Obsidian Lava source and water
Cobblestone Lava and water, dungeons and jungle temples
Moss stone Dungeons, jungle temples, and giant tree taiga forests

The Nether[edit]

A similar graph, showing the distribution of blocks unique to the Nether:

Block layers nether 1.5.svg

Landscape feature Complete layer range Most common layers Implement needed to obtain
Netherrack Layers 1-126 Layers 4-123 Wooden pickaxe or better
Soul sand Layers 14-81 Layers 58-64 None
Glowstone Layers 2-120 Layers 98-106 None
Nether bricks Layers 19-86 Layers 48-66 Wooden pickaxe or better
Nether quartz ore Layers 7-117 Layers 9-115 Wooden pickaxe or better

Video[edit]

History[edit]

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 Beta
1.6 ?Solid 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.
1.8 Pre-release The player's view distance decreases in lower altitudes.
Previously, the sea level was at layer 64. Now, it is at layer 63. Players who have maps created before this update will find one-block-high "waterfalls" at the edges of the terrain previously generated when moving into new, post-Beta 1.8 terrain.
Java Edition
1.2.1 12w07a The height limit was doubled from 127 to 254, 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.
1.7.2 13w36a Amplified world type added (attempts to use the full 255 height).
1.11 16w32a The height limit message will now appear on top of the hotbar, the place that the message "Press LSHIFT to dismount" will also appear when you're riding a mob.
Pocket Edition
1.0 build 1 The height limit was doubled from 127 to 255, with the exception of the nether.

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 and elytra launchers can blast the player far beyond this limit.
  • In The Nether, mushrooms can generate at Y=128, above the bedrock.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Dictionary.com Unabridged, "altitude", accessed April 10, 2016
  2. "Minecraft on new 3DS!" – Minecraft.net
  3. MC-74776 – "Player unable to turn when at Y: Infinity" resolved as "Won't Fix"