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History of Geology in the Known World

by Isabelle Sarikhan

The first written records of scholars contemplating the science of geology were the scholars of the Kingdom of Blackmoor. They widely collected and documented fossils and began assigning geologic ages using relative dating principles. A few remaining geologic maps of the lands surrounding the Kingdom of Blackmoor have been found. Their author, Belthic Waals, of University of Blackmoor was the founder the science of geology. His work, along with his colleagues, was ultimately lost with the Great Rain of Fire. What little information has been gathered, such as the above, has been gathered from the rare artifact or written manuscript.

The Great Rain of Fire disrupted every major civilisation on Mystara. What individual did not perish, struggled for survival. Within years, what gains had been accomplished had been ultimately destroyed. As the dust settled and civilisations began to rebound, the study of science progressed once again. It was in the Empire of Nithia that geology was 're-discovered', by explorers travelling through what is today known as the Hardanger Mountains in Soderfjord Jarldoms. They discovered creatures preserved in the limestone rock. Scholars of the day were at first bewildered, but explorers continued to find preserved fossils across the land and only in certain rock types. It was Samira Hawwegh in 1,650 BC that started to correlate rock types and fossils. She was able to map specific fossils to certain localities. She hired diggers, collectors and cartographers to unearth and map as many fossils as they could find and she quickly amassed an extensive collection. She quickly recognised that large groups of fossils abruptly ended within the stratigraphy and new fossils slowly propagated in layers above them. Unfortunately, dissidents killed Samira and her research was forgotten for the next hundred years.

During the period that Samira was studying fossils, the scholar Khalid al-Bashm was researching the copper deposits located on the hills north and south of fertile plains. He recognised that ore deposits were only located in specific locations and dedicated his studies to figuring out why. His research was crucial for the expansion of Nithia. The Pharaoh at the time recognised this, appointing him head scholar of his court. Khalid, with the royal cartographers, began to map the different rock types, recognising that many of the mines were located on the contact boundary between the limestone rock and granite. Continued mapping and studies proved this theory true and allowed the Nithian Empire expand into other lands, searching for new mineral wealth. It was also during this period that Khalid discovered banded iron formations in the southern hills. Scholars began studying this new metal, eventually discovering that this iron was abundant, very durable, and relatively easy to smelt.

During the next hundred years, the Nithian Empire began to expand into new territories, searching for new resources. Additionally, the study of geology quickly expanded. An aspiring scholar discovered the manuscripts and collections of Samira. These discoveries led the Nithian scholars to begin recognising that specific sequences are time related. These scholars, combining the knowledge of ore deposits with the fossil stratigraphy began to rough out a general geologic history. Fossil collecting once again became important and scholars travelled to Nithian colonies searching for new localities. Scholars amassed large collections of fossils, but sometimes these collections became lost once the scholar had died. After much debating between scholars, a collective agreement was arranged that all fossils collected should be kept at central locations within the Empire. Temples or universities would house large collection of fossils and allow studying scholars' access to them. The geologic timescale of Mystara was further refined during the next hundred years and would remain the most accurate scale to date.

During the demise of Nithia in 500 BC, vast fossil collections were lost. The geologic knowledge learned throughout the history of Nithia was almost completely lost. The Nithians transported to the Hollow World completely lost the knowledge gained in geology. It is widely believed that the dwarves and Nithians never interacted with one another. However, the dwarves of Rockhome preserved some of the knowledge gained by the Nithians. A small number of interested adventurers and learned dwarven geologists secretly acquired Nithian geologic maps, fossil collections and manuscripts. This information is highly guarded by the dwarves and is stored deep within the earth, far away from non-dwarven eyes. After the fall of Nithia, dwarven explorers flooded into the desert to the east, hoping to discover more information and traded with Alasiyan nomads for manuscripts from Nithian ruins. The dwarves of Rockhome continue to maintain close contacts with the rulers of Ylaruam, for the acquisition of the occasional Nithian artifact.

Dwarven scientists began using the principles learned from the Nithian geology to start expanding geology into the subsurface and tectonics. Nithian scholars focused on surficial geology, as mining techniques were mainly surficial and access to the underground was beyond their scope. Jhyrana daughter of Daria Blysenshield and other dwarven scientists began classifying different minerals and rock types. This became known as the Jhyrana system. Although the Nithian scholars had studied rocks and minerals, no extensive classification was ever completed. Borin son of Bofin Ghena studies also led to the discovery of faulting and folding, and began mapping major faults and folded stratigraphy in the Known World.

As the dwarven colonists settled into foreign lands, they occasionally taught geology to inspired humans. This was especially true in the Empire of Thyatis, where many scholars owe their knowledge of geology to the dwarves. In recent years, the science of geology has progressed slowly. The dwarves have renamed many of the original geologic names with the exception of the geologic timescale. Through many hundred years of joined research, many Thyatian names also been introduced.

Nithian Geologic Timeline

Eon Period Series Symbol Start, Million Years Ago
Aedemgal Baarfran Great Rain of Fire GR 0.003
Mardan MD 1.8
Yakhan YA 5
Sedaran SE 15
Zendegal Parendan Late (Upper) PA 25
Middle 30
Early (Lower) 50
Sarkesan Late (Upper) SR 55
Middle 65
Early (Lower) 75
Sadeffan Late (Upper) SD 85
Middle 100
Early (Lower) 125
Moghsan Late (Upper) MG 135
Middle 165
Early (Lower) 175
Hushran Late (Upper) HU 180
Middle 185
Early (Lower) 195
Kavashan Late (Upper) KV 205
Middle 220
Early (Lower) 235
Darekhtan Late (Upper) DA 220
Middle 250
Early (Lower) 285
Mahian Late (Upper) MA 295
Middle 305
Early (Lower) 315
Morjan Late (Upper) MO 330
Middle 340
Early (Lower) 355
Kazjdan Late (Upper) KA 375
Middle 385
Early (Lower) 415
Gharman Late (Upper) GA 525
Middle 605
Early (Lower) 725
Nozendegan   NO 2500
Akejzan   AK 3800
Mordan   MR 4570