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Terrain features

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

Overworld[edit]

Terrain[edit]

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 the exception for structures.

Mountain[edit]

Mountains are hills with extreme slopes, cliffs and caves containing emerald ore. 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 mid-air. Floating islands are normally just small chunks of floating dirt and stone found near cliffs, but on rare occasions they can be large structures that even have springs and trees on them. Floating islands are most frequently found in mountains biomes, along with the "hills", "mountains", and "modified" variants of most biomes, especially shattered savannas.

Hollows[edit]

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 survive without light. When they generate under the sea level, they are filled with water. They are extremely rare in the default world, compared with the rarity of the modified jungle edge, but can be found far more commonly in certain customized worlds.

Hill[edit]

Hills are randomly generated pieces of land on the map. Like stairs, hills are always traversable to their lowest point by virtue of the algorithm that 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[edit]

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 the sand.

Basin[edit]

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 forests 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, consisting of six 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]

Lake[edit]

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]

  • Caves – large tunnels found underground in the overworld and nether.
    • Ravines – very deep and narrow caves

Small structures[edit]

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, gravel and/or magma blocks). Striders can spawn in lava seas.

Unlike with Overworld oceans, lava oceans are not handled as a biome.[1]

Nether Basins[edit]

In the nether, basins generate the same size and shape as they do in the Overworld. Unlike their Overworld counterparts, however, Nether basins replace the ground with netherrack instead of stone. Nether basins can also expose ores, mainly nether quartz ore and nether gold ore.

Basalt columns[edit]

Basalt columns generate in basalt deltas, covering the terrain of the biome. Basalt columns consist of basalt that form jagged hills. They can generate at any height in the biome, even in lava seas, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Deltas[edit]

Deltas are shallow one block deep lava lakes which are surrounded by magma blocks and natural terrain blocks. They can be found at any level in the Basalt Deltas biome.

Glowstone clusters[edit]

Basalt pillars[edit]

Mineral veins[edit]

Springs[edit]

Hidden lava[edit]

The End[edit]

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 thin and small.

Outer island[edit]

The outer end islands are found 1000 blocks away from the central island. They vary in size from large islands to smaller "mini islands". Generated structures such as End cities and End ships spawn here, along with chorus trees and basins. The player can be taken to the end islands through the End gateway.

Obsidian pillar[edit]

Obsidian platform[edit]

Exit portal[edit]

End gateway[edit]

End Basins[edit]

Basins in the End generate as they would in the Overworld and the Nether, with the exception being that they never expose any ores. End basins may generate on both the central island and outer islands, and chorus trees may occasionally take root in them.

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 generate 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 approximately doubles 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 visible only via 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 chunk generation order may determine which of two conflicting features overwrite or suppress the other.

History[edit]

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. (When was it removed?)
Java Edition Alpha
v1.0.1Caves can now be far bigger and more expansive.
v1.2.0previewAdded the Nether but not all Nether-related generated structures.
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.
1.1620w06aAdded basalt pillars.
Pocket Edition Alpha
0.1.0Added beaches, oceans, frozen oceans, cliffs, mountains, basins, mineral vein and 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 no longer generate.
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 0.17.0.1Added 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 1.2.0.2Added ravines.
1.4.0beta 1.2.14.2Added 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 1.2.20.1Caves can now generate underwater.
1.16.0beta 1.16.0.51Added basalt pillars.
Legacy Console Edition
TU5CU11.0Patch 11.0.1Added 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 is not the same as before.
TU19CU71.12Water oases no longer generate in deserts.
TU691.76Patch 38Added coral reefs and underwater caves and ravines.
New Nintendo 3DS Edition
1.7.10Added chorus trees.

Videos[edit]

References[edit]