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Rachel Udin
01-18-2011, 11:41 PM
I was looking for people who know Geography and Geology. Are there any rules to making maps and placing populations (of humans) that we can glean from you experts?

I'd also like a dummies' version of how the world's currents work (if there is rhyme or reason to why they are placed the way they are), similar to the Gulf stream and if the tectonic plates layout has rhyme or reason to it.

Also a rough on biospheres Dos and Don'ts. (More like an instructional, rather than just read wikipedia.)

I know this subject is massive, so anything you have, go for it.

I know the rule about deserts don't belong next to tropical oases.

I'll take books too. Sources definitely welcome and encouraged.

Thanks.

Stanmiller
01-18-2011, 11:54 PM
Holy huge subjects, Batman. You'll have to employ legions of Googly Minions to even get an overview. BTW geography and geology are two entirely different things. Geography has to do with places on the surface of the earth. Geology has to do with how the earth got the way it is today.

As for plate tectonics, start here, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics) then follow the See Also links.

Happy reading.
Stan

Collectonian
01-19-2011, 12:51 AM
For the basics, yeah it may sound bad, but I'd go pick up copies of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geography, 3rd Edition and the upcoming Geology For Dummies (out in July). They have stigmas attached sometimes, but I find them quite useful for getting quick, basic overviews of topics so I at least have a frame of reference for getting more info.

Barnes and Noble put out a series of "handy answer" books as well, including The Handy Geography Answer Book, which I found quite useful. I suspect the Geology one is likely just as good.

Also check your local university or community college's intro classes syllabus (if they are online) to see what book they are using and snag copies. Essentials of Geology (11th Edition) by Frederick K. Lutgens, Edward J. Tarbuck, and Dennis Tasa seems to be a particularly popular and well received classbook for the Geology side.

Drachen Jager
01-19-2011, 12:52 AM
Large human settlements tend to be on bodies of water or other major transportation routes. Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?

I believe the coreolis effect is what causes the ocean currents and trade winds to be the way they are, it also is the reason why most toilets in the northern hemisphere flush counter-clockwise and in the southern hemisphere clockwise.

The main component which has made our biosphere possible is called homoeostasis, essentially, animals produce greenhouse gasses which warm the Earth and make it more compatible for plants. Plants reduce the greenhouse gasses which cools the Earth and makes for a higher ratio of animals.

Rachel Udin
01-19-2011, 01:26 AM
Holy huge subjects, Batman. You'll have to employ legions of Googly Minions to even get an overview. BTW geography and geology are two entirely different things. Geography has to do with places on the surface of the earth. Geology has to do with how the earth got the way it is today.

As for plate tectonics, start here, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics) then follow the See Also links.

Happy reading.
Stan

I did narrow it to making reasonable maps.... =P

My major questions though, are how things like the ocean streams work, why is it in the pattern it is, or is there no particular reason the gulf of Mexico hits Western Europe v. North Africa? This would be for nautical maps. I saw a program that went over salination, etc. But I was more interested in why is it in that particular pattern around the continents to work out nautical maps.

And then tectonic plates. Why do they break the way they do? Is there a rhyme or reason for the way the shapes are on Earth, or can we draw them random and have no consequences from the scientific community?

Geography would more cover populations, settlements and borders. There are some that settle outside of large water areas, but I'm unclear under which conditions they would be able to do so. Most borders break along water lines, mountains and also parallels. Anything missing from that?

Also Chain Islands.... Are there do's and don't do these around volcanic activity?

I was looking for quick rules of biospheres one would get in a 101 class.

Is that more specific? I'm looking for the Why... and general understanding of rules so that they can be broken consciously for use in map making.

Stanmiller
01-19-2011, 01:50 AM
Ocean Currents (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_current)

I'm confused. Are you asking people to do internet searches and provide you with capsule summaries? 'Cause it don't work like that.

WriteKnight
01-19-2011, 02:24 AM
You must research.

Coriolis affect - ocean currents.
Plate Tectonics - mid sea rifts and volcanic activity.
Human migration patterns.

Each of these subjects will require about six to eight hours of serious reading to get any sort of 'grasp' on them.

But if you don't want to do the work. Here are the easy answers.

Ocean currents circulate the way they do, because of the Coriolis affect. The atmosphere works the same way. These set up the patterns of ocean currents and wind directions (Generally)

Plate tectonics are caused by the 'upwelling' of sub-surface material and the subduction fo the same material. This is what causes mountains. It's ONE of the reasons volcano chains form along the plate or 'fault' lines.

Humans live where they can have easy access to food, shelter and other people. The higher and more advanced the technology, the easier it is to live in 'difficult' places.

Thats about it. Good luck on your research. Time to exercise your google-fu.

Rachel Udin
01-19-2011, 03:22 AM
Ocean Currents (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_current)

I'm confused. Are you asking people to do internet searches and provide you with capsule summaries? 'Cause it don't work like that.

No, I was looking for more experts in the field, rather than wikipedia. I did make a guide for other areas of world building using my College level notes, and I tried to search for the material in this area, but came up short.

i.e. Someone who has taken a class, or works in the field and can give some hard and fast rules for setting up the currents and patterns for the person who is setting up a map.

More expert knowledge from someone that knows their crap and can give a simplified version of how to set a fantasy/science fiction map up for a layman.

I can give examples in other areas.

For example, from Cultural Anthropology:

The primary caretaker for children worldwide has been women, not men (until recently, but this is in primarily in post industrial countries.)

There is gendered speech in every language.

No language is more "simple" than another.

No real magic system has had magic to create fire.

Cultural Geography:
The age of marriage of women is one of the primary controls for population growth.

Example in Cultural Anthro:
There is no systematized reason that Chinese developed chopsticks. They just did. However, if you are going to use a particular utensil, think about how it impacts the presentation of the food and the manners. Chinese, for example mostly present food that is easy to break down with chopsticks or is bite-sized. Because of the lack of soups as much, there isn't a spoon required. Compare that to the west where a spoon, knife and fork are usually present. The steak is not cut up before presentation, for example. You are expected to cut your own food--because you have a knife with your food.

Not everything in culture needs rhyme or reason, but if you do invent something, then think about the impact of it.

Linguistics: The Eskimo snow thing is a load of crock.

Simple, but useful facts about the subject that a layman might not know, but they could apply towards map making.

Is there a way to systemize it on a made-up Earth-like map? Or can we get away with drawing random currents and tectonic plates and no one would blink?

I'm more aiming towards that. Basically hard and fast rules to avoid common pitfalls. (Or what would piss off a Geographer/Geology major on a Fantasy/Sci-fi map)

For example, Chain Islands, you will never find them doing X because of X and X and here's the source...

Tectonic plates can be drawn at random because of X. Or they can't be drawn at random because of X, and if you do draw them this way, then your continents should be influenced in X way.

Like that. Then maybe backed with sources. But it's fast, useful for only world building. I was wondering if I could mine out similar rules.

So it's a way to navigate map making so that a person doesn't do it that makes anyone in geography/Geology question the way the map is laid out, but doesn't make it seem like you have to spend forever on reading everything on the internet--but a quick start up.

No one took a 101 class to specifically mine this info out? There has to be someone.

Are there rules to ocean currents when drawing them on a map that is a total no-no? or you musts? Same with tectonic plates. I think I have the Cultural Geography down. I'm a little fuzzier on borders and biosphere rules.

Is that still not clear?

MissMacchiato
01-19-2011, 03:26 AM
even today we don't really know some of the answers to those questions.

Plate tectonics is just a theory, by the way. On your planet, you wouldn't necessarily even have to have plate tectonics, that's just the way that earth is believed to work.

I did geology at university level for a few years, and it's complex, and constantly changing - even from year to year. So, even if you write something that is totally scientifically accurate as we know it today, it may be inaccurate after five or so years.

I know that's not at all what you want to hear, but on the plus side, it means you don't have to be overly concerned :)

Miguelito
01-19-2011, 04:55 AM
Plate tectonics is just a theory, by the way. On your planet, you wouldn't necessarily even have to have plate tectonics, that's just the way that earth is believed to work.

I did geology at university level for a few years, and it's complex, and constantly changing - even from year to year. So, even if you write something that is totally scientifically accurate as we know it today, it may be inaccurate after five or so years.

I know that's not at all what you want to hear, but on the plus side, it means you don't have to be overly concerned :)
Plate tectonics is a theory like evolution is a theory. It's not going anywhere soon.;)

Just like the phrase: "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", "nothing in geology makes sense except in the light of plate tectonics".

Having said that, you're right. On other worlds, you don't have to have plate tectonics.

And for ocean currents and how they work, "Essentials of Oceanography" by Garrison is an excellent, basic text with lots of pictures and is intended to be understandable by non-science undergrads.

WriteKnight
01-19-2011, 05:35 AM
Try googling "Basic Cartographic Principals" or Simple Cartography to start.

Honestly.

Here's someplace to start.

http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/learningresources/carto_corner/maps.html

or even

http://www.guildwarsguru.com/forum/cartography-made-easy-complete-collection-t10359679.html

Rachel Udin
01-21-2011, 01:36 AM
Plate tectonics is a theory like evolution is a theory. It's not going anywhere soon.;)

Just like the phrase: "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", "nothing in geology makes sense except in the light of plate tectonics".

Having said that, you're right. On other worlds, you don't have to have plate tectonics.

And for ocean currents and how they work, "Essentials of Oceanography" by Garrison is an excellent, basic text with lots of pictures and is intended to be understandable by non-science undergrads.

I'll definitely take the source, especially ones that simplify complex concepts.

Mostly I'm wondering how random I can draw the ocean streams. Is there a Yes-No kind of thing? And a why to the yes-no? I get the sense that they do have to circulate through warmer and colder climates and around continents (that's a no duh). But rules of the game.


even today we don't really know some of the answers to those questions.

Plate tectonics is just a theory, by the way. On your planet, you wouldn't necessarily even have to have plate tectonics, that's just the way that earth is believed to work.

I did geology at university level for a few years, and it's complex, and constantly changing - even from year to year. So, even if you write something that is totally scientifically accurate as we know it today, it may be inaccurate after five or so years.

I know that's not at all what you want to hear, but on the plus side, it means you don't have to be overly concerned :)

I heard on a show the difference between Mars and the Earth in terms of having life was that there was no volcanic activity on Mars. Without the tectonic activity, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, etc the atmosphere of Earth won't exist. Since my focus is on making earth-like planets, I'm making an assumption I should have tectonic plates.

So is this a yes, to go forth and draw them at random with no repercussions?


Try googling "Basic Cartographic Principals" or Simple Cartography to start.

Honestly.

Here's someplace to start.

http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/learningresources/carto_corner/maps.html

or even

http://www.guildwarsguru.com/forum/cartography-made-easy-complete-collection-t10359679.html
Thanks, but I'm more looking for pitfalls/rules of drawing an Earth-like map from a geographer and geologist's POV rather than how to draw one. Rules... and so on.

Drachen Jager
01-21-2011, 02:52 AM
Plate tectonics is just a theory, by the way. On your planet, you wouldn't necessarily even have to have plate tectonics, that's just the way that earth is believed to work.

There is no "just" in theory. A theory is the strongest level of information acceptable in science. Gravity is a theory for god's sake!

Everything is a theory because science maintains an open view. It is possible (however unlikely in some cases) that some future evidence will force the re-assessment of any scientific belief, which is as it should be. If your theory no longer matches the facts, you need a new theory. That does not make it weak, that makes it the best possible answer.

If you would rather someone give you concrete and immutable, "facts", I don't know where you might look, certainly the church (all churches) have changed their bedrock-accepted and immutable dogma from time to time.

Feel free to look elsewhere for absolute truth, but your search will be in vain. It's not out there.

Miguelito
01-21-2011, 05:27 AM
I'll definitely take the source, especially ones that simplify complex concepts.

Mostly I'm wondering how random I can draw the ocean streams. Is there a Yes-No kind of thing? And a why to the yes-no? I get the sense that they do have to circulate through warmer and colder climates and around continents (that's a no duh). But rules of the game.



You've got lots of options. You're not just limited to surface circulation, but upwelling and downwelling areas as well. Of course, it ends up being a mass-balance thing. A current doesn't just "stop". It can get diverted, split, or downwelled (and where you have downwelling, there should be upwelling elsewhere to balance things).

Just some things on earth to keep in mind about Earth's history for examples:

A few hundred million years ago, there was one big continent on earth (Pangaea) surrounded by one humungous ocean. Most paleo-oceanographers think that warm, equatorial waters stayed around the equator by moving east-west and whereas cold waters stayed around the poles. There wasn't a heck of alot of north-south movement of water (and heat). Simply put: there wasn't much there to physically divert things north or south.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangaea

Then, over the course of a few hundred million years, the continents split apart into moreoreless the configuration we have now. What do we have? We have three major oceans because North America and South America stretch nearly from pole to pole in one big landmass as well as Europe and Africa. Thus, those landmasses act like barriers to east-west movement of water around the equator and warm, equatorial waters end up being pushed north and south.

Currently, with this north-south movement of water from the equator, the currents reach the poles and their icecaps where the warm water can cool down (get denser) and sink to the bottom of the ocean (downwelling). In a good example, the Gulf Stream originating from the Caribbean moves up the eastern seaboard of the U.S., past eastern Canada, and goes to Greenland and northern Europe. At Greeland, the icecap cools the water enough so it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and once it's on the bottom of the ocean, it begins to move south. So, what we have is warm water flowing north, then sinking, and going south under that warm water. It's like one massive conveyor belt and this sunken water eventually resurfaces (upwells) in the northern Pacific (it's one long trip that I think takes 6000 years).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation

Of course, the poles haven't always been ice free (for most of the past 550 million years, they've been relatively warm). During those periods, there wasn't much in the way of upwelling and downwelling so the waters ended up becoming "stratified" (what was warm stayed warm and on top and what was cold stayed cold and stayed on the bottom). When there's not much in the way of up or down movement of water, oxygen-rich upper waters (upper waters have all the tiny little microplants that produce oxygen because sunlight can only go so deep), never make it to deep waters and your deep waters go anoxic (i.e. no oxygen and not much can live there). Today, because of all this up and down movement of water, bottom waters in the oceans are typically well oxygenated and it's possible for many things to live on the sea floor.

Finally, one one last point, you don't want a "burp" from anoxic bottom waters where there's sudden overturning or if the extent of the anoxic waters grows so high that it begins to extend into shallow waters of the continental shelves. One of the hypotheses behind the biggest mass extinction on earth (Permian-Triassic extinction) was that these anoxic waters got into shallow waters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian-Triassic_extinction_event

FennelGiraffe
01-21-2011, 06:50 AM
http://www.world-builders.org/ might be helpful. It's been several years since I looked at it, though, so I don't recall how much detail it goes into on your specific topics.

jaksen
01-22-2011, 12:40 AM
Wow, this thread reads like a basic or general science curriculum, because a lot of this material is taught in grades 6, 7 and 8 (in the US).

Not being sarcastic here, but just going to a library and grabbing some middle or junior high science texts would give you a thorough understanding of the basics. Because in my mind you also need to have an understanding of basic physical science, life science and chemistry concepts, too.

(This is why all future science writers or people who expect to use science in their writing NEED to pay attention to their science teachers!)

MollyParrot
01-28-2011, 04:21 PM
My best advice is to go order an old edition of something like Glencoe Earth Science from Amazon. You should be able to find one for under $10.

I am a geologist, but your questions are very broad, so I have no idea where I would begin. However, tectonic plates on Earth do correlate with things like volcanic island arcs and mountain chains, and earthquake zones, so proximity to a plate boundary certainly influences the environment. This is a simplification though because earthquakes and volcanoes also occur in the middle of plates.

A good high school text would present the basics to you without the extra depth of a college text. The Glencoe book, in particular, is one that I have reviewed and used in my own classroom. It was too advanced for my 9th graders, but was perfect for my seniors.

The PBS series Earth Revealed may also be of use to you. It is a bit outdated now, but still excellent. You can watch the entire series for free at the Annenberg web site.

Feel free to ask me any specific questions.