Terrain features

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This page lists generated terrain features that are created in a Minecraft world.



Biomes dictate the shape and height of the world. At this stage, the ground is made mostly of stone and stone variants, with water filling in most empty spaces below layer 63, with exception for structures.


Mountains are hills with extreme slopes and cliffs. Mountains can sometimes have caves through them. On an amplified world, mountains are extremely common in all biomes except ocean and swamp biomes.

Floating "island"[edit]

Floating "islands" are structures that float in midair that are not connected to the ground, the sea, hills or cliffs. Floating "islands" are normally just random pieces of floating dirt and stone found near cliffs, but on rare occasions they can be large, floating structures that even have springs and trees on them. Floating Islands are most frequently found in mountains biomes (and its variants), along with the "hills", "mountains", and "modified" variants of most biomes, especially shattered savannas.


Hollows are the opposite of floating islands. They look like caves, but they have nothing to do with cave generation (although they may intersect with them). When there are many overhangs, they close together and create a hollow. They have exactly the same floor as the terrain above, depending on the biome that they are located in, unlike caves. Hollows have no specific floor. Grass blocks can generate inside too, and interestingly will survive without light. When they generate under the sea level, they are filled with water. They are extremely rare in the default world, but can be found far more commonly in certain customized worlds.


Hills are randomly generated pieces of land in the map. Like stairs, hills are always traversable to their lowest point by virtue of the algorithm which generates them; there is almost always a place on each level from where the next level can be accessed, meaning that the player can climb a hill one level at a time until they reach the top. Cases where this is not true are rare.


Surface layer[edit]

The uppermost layers of the terrain are converted to a biome-dependent material: usually grass blocks and dirt, or sand in deserts and beaches. Podzol is found in giant tree taiga, mycelium in mushroom field biomes, and red sand is found in the badlands biome. Sandstone is generated under sand.


Occasionally, instead of being converted to dirt or sand, the top layer is stripped away, leaving a 'basin' of bare stone. They bear some resemblance to a geological 'shield' (an area of tectonically stable rock that has been exposed to prolonged erosion due to its very old age; it is distinct from the geological term "basin"). They seem to be more common in forest or plains, and are occasionally seen filled with water. Commonly, minerals can be found in these, generally coal ore and iron ore. If generated in a Badlands biome, gold ore can also be seen.

Bryce Pillar[edit]

Bryce pillars are tall spike like structures found in badlands, which consist of 6 colors of terracotta. While this structure is found exclusively in eroded badlands, all badlands biomes actually have this structure, but set to false except for eroded badlands. This structure juts out from sea level and can occasionally pass altitude layer 100.

Liquid bodies[edit]


Lakes are shallow and often small bodies of liquid. Water lakes, which are small pools of water springs, can generate above sea level or inside caverns. They can also generate isolated underground, connected to no other structures whatsoever. When in a winter biome, these small lakes are never initially frozen but will turn to ice if exposed. The lakes can also be composed of lava; however, lakes of lava are much rarer. Lava lakes found at the surface are surrounded by stone (which can be replaced by ore veins such as dirt, gravel and coal). Both types of lake generate with a small air pocket above them, which may result in floating sand, floating snow cover or even the top two-thirds of trees above the lake. Lava lakes may cause trees to burn away.

Large lake[edit]

Since water generates on the surface of the world below y=63, land it covers can turn into large lakes. Large lakes generate pockets of dirt, sand, gravel and clay on the lake floor. When large lakes generate near the shore they can turn into small bays.

Coral reef[edit]

Large structures[edit]



Ravines are tall, thin trenches that generate either underground or at the surface, and extend 30 - 50 blocks downwards or to bedrock level in the Bedrock Edition. Ravines can spawn in the ocean making it look like underwater trenches.

Small structures[edit]

Mineral vein[edit]

Mineral vein
Mineral vein.png

Coal, iron, gold, redstone, diamond, lapis lazuli: Anywhere in the Overworld.
Emerald: Mountain biomes.
Nether quartz: the Nether.

Consists of

A mineral vein is a natural deposit of ores. Players can come across these veins in caverns or anywhere where there is natural stone. Underground deposits of dirt and gravel are generated in this step, followed by the more precious ores: coal, iron, gold, redstone, diamond, emerald (in mountains biomes) and lapis lazuli. They can only form in stone, andesite, diorite and granite, and do not replace each other or any other block. Note that two or more mineral veins can form next to each other and make it look like a mineral vein made of more than one material.


Springs are randomly generated blocks of either lava or water that act as a source of their respective material. While both can be found on the vertical side of stone blocks above the surface, lava springs are more often found underground beneath layer 32 in caverns and mineshafts. They do not generate above a certain Y altitude.

Mossy cobblestone boulder[edit]

Mossy cobblestone boulder
Mossy Cobblestone Boulder.png

Giant Tree Taiga

Consists of

These structures are meant to represent boulders, made entirely of mossy cobblestone. The arrangement of these structures varies greatly. They can be found dotted around areas of the giant tree taiga biome. Mossy cobblestone boulders are quite rare, due to the giant tree taiga biome's rarity.

Ice spike[edit]

Ice spike
Ice World Spikes.png

Ice Spikes

Consists of

Ice spikes are tall spires made of packed ice that can only be found in the snowy tundra biomes. There are two variants of ice spikes: one is short and thick, and the other is extremely tall and thin.



Frozen Ocean, Deep Frozen Ocean

Consists of

Icebergs are structures that generate in frozen oceans and their deep variants. They consist primarily of packed ice with a little bit of ice and blue ice, and will often be topped with snow. They are the only place where blue ice can be found naturally beside snowy village. Icebergs generate in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from small "islands" to giant mountain-like ice structures. They can also generate with "cave-like" holes in them, which sometimes reach to the other side of the iceberg.

The Nether[edit]

Lava sea[edit]

Lava seas are found at and below level 30 in the Nether. They make a large portion of the Nether, and are extremely common. They can stretch for hundreds of meters in any direction, and are usually bordered by netherrack (or more rarely soul sand and/or magma blocks).

Glowstone clusters[edit]

Glowstone cluster
Glowstone Cluster.png


Consists of

Glowstone clusters are typically veins of glowstone that can be among the hardest natural materials to harvest that don't require digging. They form in coral-like structures on the underside of hanging Netherrack, so they are often found on the ceilings of the Nether, where they provide light along with the ever present lava.

Other things located in the Nether[edit]

There are areas of soul sand and gravel around layer 64, veins of nether quartz ore, large "veins" of magma blocks and "hidden lava", which is a single block of lava generated randomly between netherrack.

The End[edit]

The Central Island[edit]

The center of the End is a large, asteroid-like island composed entirely of end stone, floating in the void. At a distance of 1000 blocks away, an endless expanse of more islands begins, away from the main island. These consist of large islands, about the size of the main island, and smaller ones, which are usually very thin and small.

Obsidian pillar[edit]

Obsidian platform[edit]

Obsidian Platform
Obsidian platform.png

The End

Consists of
Can generate in
existing chunks

Yes, is replaced upon dimension re-entry

The obsidian platform is a 5 by 5 square of obsidian that is generated once a player enters the End. (Note that if the obsidian is destroyed, or if a block is placed on top of it, when the player enters the End, the obsidian will be restored and any blocks on top of it will despawn.) Obsidian platforms generate at X, Y, Z = 100(100.5), 48, 0(0.5), mostly far away from the island, making it tough to get there. Players who enter the end will spawn at X, Y, Z = 100, 49, 0 and the other entities that enter the end will spawn at X, Y , Z = 100.5, 50, 0.5, the middle of platform and 1 block higher than the platform.

  • Sometimes the platform generates inside a case of end stone. It will remove enough end stone so that the player can walk around.
  • Occasionally the platform will generate in midair.

Exit portal[edit]

End gateway[edit]

Return gateway[edit]

Return gateways are end gateways that generate randomly throughout the outer End islands. These will teleport the player back to the center island's spawn platform.

Technical details[edit]

Features are generated for a given chunk after the terrain has been formed. The chunk format includes a tag called TerrainPopulated that indicates whether features whose point of origin is in that chunk have been generated. If it is false or missing, they will be generated again. Feature generation is based on what is already in the chunk, so (for example) flagging a chunk that has already been populated for repopulation will approximately double the amount of ore in it.

When features are generated, they can spill over into neighboring chunks that have been previously generated. Thus, a tree at the edge of the generated world (and probably only visible using external tools) may be overwritten by a lake before the player reaches it. It is also theoretically possible for two worlds generated with the same seed, from the same version of Minecraft, to differ slightly depending on the players' travel routes, because the order in which chunks are generated may determine which of two conflicting features will overwrite or suppress the other.


Java Edition pre-Classic
Cave game tech testDevelopment on "Cave Game" started; caverns added.
Java Edition Classic
0.0.12aAdded ocean around map.
0.0.14aAdded trees. At this point they were simply stumps covered with a thin leaf layer.
0.0.15a (Multiplayer Test 1)Trees have a new shape.
August 25, 2009Video uploaded showing changed cavern generation; longer and narrower caverns, and bigger caves the deeper you travel.
Surface lava lakes shown to be possible but unlikely, despite existing as early as 0.0.12a_03.
Java Edition Infdev
20100320Re-added trees.
Java Edition Alpha
v1.0.1Caves can now be far bigger and more expansive.
v1.2.0previewAdded the Nether and all Nether-related generated structures, except for nether fortresses and magma veins.
v1.2.6Added small lakes and rare lava pools, both on the surface and randomly in caves.
Java Edition Beta
1.8Pre-releaseAdded huge mushrooms.
Added river biomes and vast oceans.
Sand and gravel beaches removed due to the changes in the terrain generation algorithm.
Java Edition
1.0.0Beta 1.9 Prerelease 4Added the End and End-related main island generated structures, including the End island, the obsidian platform, the obsidian towers and the exit portal.
1.112w01aSand beaches have made a return, but the way they look and generate are not the same as before.
1.2.112w07aThe generation of beaches has been greatly improved.
1.6.113w17aWater oases no longer generate in deserts.
1.7.213w36aGravel beaches have been returned to the terrain.
Mountains now generate as part of the "M" biome variants.
The desert oases appear in the desert M biome.
Moss stone boulders were added.
1.915w31aAdded the outer islands of the End.
Added chorus trees.
Added the end gateway portal.
1.1318w08aCaves and ravines can now generate underwater.
Frozen Ocean have made a return, but without customized, they look and generate, but are not the same unused.
18w10dAdded coral reefs.
18w15aAdded icebergs.
Pocket Edition Alpha
0.1.0Added beaches, ocean, frozen ocean, cliffs, mountains, basin, mineral vein, trees.
0.7.0Added gravel beaches.
0.9.0build 1Added caves, lava pools, rivers, huge mushrooms, moss stone boulders, ice patches, and ice spikes.
Frozen oceans are now no longer generated.
Removed gravel beaches.
0.12.1build 1Added the Nether along with lava oceans, glowstone clusters, soul sand beaches, hidden lava, gravel beaches, and nether quartz veins.
Pocket Edition
1.0.0alpha the End and End-related generated structures, including the End islands, the obsidian platform, the obsidian towers, the end fountain, end cities, end gateways and chorus trees.
Bedrock Edition
1.2.0beta ravines.
1.4.0beta icebergs.
Added coral reefs.
Ravines can now generate underwater.
Frozen oceans have made a return, but the way they look and generate are not the same as before.
beta can now generate underwater.
Legacy Console Edition
TU5CU11.0Patch 1Patch 1Added ravines.
Sand and gravel beaches removed due to the changes in the terrain generation algorithm.
TU9Added the End along with End-related structures such as the End island, the obsidian platform, the obsidian towers and the end fountain.
Sand beaches have made a return, but the way they look and generate are not the same as before.
TU19CU71.12Water oases will now no longer generate in deserts.
TU691.76Patch 38Added coral reefs and underwater caves and ravines.
New Nintendo 3DS Edition
1.7.10Added chorus plants.