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Old 01-31-2002, 04:46 PM   #1
Lindolirian
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Question Mountains of Mordor

Has any one else noticed how conviently located the Mountains of Mordor are? I have thought that were once the coasts of the Inland Sea of Helcar, but the coast line and the mountains don't match up. Also I read in Karen Wynn Fonstad's The Atlas of Middle Earth, that the Udun is an exploded volcano, hence the round mountain surrounded place. But the rest of the bordering mountains (Ered Lithui and Ephel Duath) the the mountains are extremely box shaped. Any ideas?

[ August 05, 2003: Message edited by: Lindolirian ]
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Old 02-01-2002, 06:00 PM   #2
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Maybe Sauron had mountain raising power like Melkor? (melkor raised the Misty Mts. to hinder the riding of Orome, built the Iron Mountains, etc.)
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Old 02-01-2002, 07:18 PM   #3
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I think that the land of Mordor was created in the tumalts that followed the breaking of Thangorodrim. Which might explain all the volcanos.
I think that it says somewhere that Sauron 'found' Mordor, implying that he did not create the landscape himself.
I might be wrong though.
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Old 02-01-2002, 07:20 PM   #4
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I have no idea whether Sauron made them or not, but he probably had the ability.
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Old 02-02-2002, 05:21 PM   #5
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The Tale of Years says Sauron in the Second Age "chooses Mordor as a land to make into a stronghold. He begins the building of Barad-dűr."
This would seem to imply the mountains were already there as a natural defence, otherwise why choose Mordor in the first place? I don't think raising mountains was in his power, as surely there would be other instances of his doing it things like that.
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Old 02-02-2002, 05:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for bringing this up, it's one of those things that nag me a bit. I never considered the possibility Melkor raised them. Good. Somebody must have. The northern range in particular is most unnatural. Does anyone have proof?

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Old 02-02-2002, 08:03 PM   #7
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Well, if Melkor did raise them he raised them right in the middle of the Inner Sea of Helcar. Kind of hard to see how they could be the least use there.
I'm still sticking to my original theory that they were created during the fall of Thangorodrim.
(They were probably drawn that way by JRRT to make Mordor harder for the Ringbearer to get into. He may have never considered how they got there, but it sure is fun to speculate.)

[ February 02, 2002: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 02-03-2002, 01:28 AM   #8
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I dont think Sauron made the mountains, mostly based on the fact that it would take so much power to do it. And I think that such an event would have been recorded in the books. It was, I think, just a very convenient place to build at.

And another reason I think he didn't make any mountains is because it talks about how he had orcs construct the 2 hills infront of the black gate. If Sauron wanted 2 hills he could have made them himself, but it would have taken too much of his power. Now imagine raising a huge line of mountains.
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Old 02-03-2002, 12:13 PM   #9
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Lindolirian, that bothered me a bit, too. Tolkien's descriptions of place are so detailed and usually dead on, and his maps, too, but Mordor does look a little "box-y", like a fence. (I was just admiring the details he threw in during the crossing of Emyn Muil, last night.)

Any topographers out there who can point out a similar mountain range on earth these days?
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Old 02-03-2002, 02:38 PM   #10
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I would believe in the Thangorodrim-theory. Sure the mountains looks a bit "box-y" but there are many wierd things in the nature.
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Old 02-03-2002, 02:51 PM   #11
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Hmm, all of these speculations are equally fascinating and likely, but can we not also think of this in scientific terms? Mountains normally occur when two or more tectonic plates meet, so maybe no one 'created' them but the earth herself.
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Old 02-03-2002, 03:10 PM   #12
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Hmm, all of these speculations are equally fascinating and likely, but can we not also think of this in scientific terms? Mountains normally occur when two or more tectonic plates meet, so maybe no one 'created' them but the earth herself.
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Old 02-04-2002, 04:12 AM   #13
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I think they were made by Melkor ... bequase they have that box-shape... but it is only a wild guess...
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Old 02-04-2002, 04:15 AM   #14
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The boxiness didn't seem very natural to me either, but it's not the only book where some countries seem conviently protected by a box of mountains.
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Old 02-04-2002, 10:28 AM   #15
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Kuruharan, where did you read that Mordor was where the inland sea of Helcar used to be? Or is this just a theory?
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Old 02-04-2002, 08:04 PM   #16
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There are maps in "The Shaping of Middle Earth" and "The Atlas of Middle Earth" that show that they are in the same place. The Lake Nurn and the Sea of Rhun were once parts of the Inland Sea of Helcar. The River Running and another river both ran into the Sea of Rhun and the inland Sea of Helcar at the same place. The coasts of the Helcar seem to coer the later site of Osgiliath but never reach Mindolluin AKA the later ste of Minas Tirth. Mordor was definately once part of the Sea.
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Old 02-04-2002, 10:18 PM   #17
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I saw it in The Atlas of Middle Earth. And as Lindolirian said, it shows Mordor was right smack in the middle of the Inner Sea of Helcar during the First Age.
(Shameless plug for one of his favorite Middle Earth books). I've found the Atlas to be a really useful thing to have around. Not only does it have good maps but some pretty good summaries and analysis of events. Well, for the most part. I don't entirely agree with all of Fonstad's stuff, but on the whole it's a very good work.
*SIGH* Sad to say I don't have The Shaping of Middle Earth, being cash poor and all that.
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Old 02-05-2002, 08:04 AM   #18
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You can get those at most libraries, I think.
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Old 02-05-2002, 08:31 AM   #19
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Not any library that I can get to easily, but that's a long story.
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Old 02-06-2002, 08:50 AM   #20
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The mountains of Mordor cannot have been made by Sauron. Sauron is not powerful enough. Also, thinking about the sea that used to be in that general area, I don't think Melkor made tehm, either. It was a result of the inner turmoil of the earth after the breaking of Thangorodrim, or they are just conveniently placed there by Tolkien.

I don't think there are any mountain formations like that around nowadays.
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Old 02-09-2002, 03:50 AM   #21
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The maps you speak of, were they drawn by Tolkien himself, or at his word? I have a feeling that they were not, or if they were, that the map in question was just an early sketch and not the final vision he had.

I propose that that the mountains were linked to the White and Misty mountaints, similar to the way the Rocky Mountains Sierra Nevada and Andes all straddle the Pacific Plate. As For Melkor raising the Misty Mountains, maybe the plate just needed a little push. Plus, the mountain systems fit Europe's rather well, not in exact form, but in size and irregular shape.
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Old 02-09-2002, 06:22 PM   #22
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Which maps? If you mean the maps in The Atlas of Middle Earth they were drawn by the author Karen Wynn Fonstad. Here's what she has to say about where she got her materials...
Quote:
The maps detailing the lands of the earlier ages, especially those in volume four, The Shaping of Middle-earth, were especially helpful in remapping the whole of Arda.
About the Inland Sea of Helcar it says...
Quote:
the Inland Sea of Helcar, formed by the meltwaters of the pillar of Illuin.
Reading all of this I found that I had forgotten another time when the Mountains of Mordor could have been raised, the Siege of Utumno. I suppose that it is possible that they could have been raised by Melkor during the tumalts, but they still would have been under the Sea of Helcar and as I said earlier it's hard to see how they could be of the least use there. I suppose they could have been there submerged, but I don't think that they would have been connected to the White Mountains, they would not have been on the same plate. (Although I must admit that my understanding of plate tectonics is small).
I think I'll still sticking to my Breaking of Thangorodrim theory.
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Old 05-27-2003, 05:08 AM   #23
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I thought that the mountains were raised by men... like a cage... its says something in Return of the King about it I'll have to look it up another time
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Old 05-27-2003, 05:15 AM   #24
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No that were the two hills Elendur spoke about. I don't thnk men could make a mountain. Yes maybe its because of the breaking of Utumno.
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Old 05-27-2003, 04:23 PM   #25
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How in the name of Eru could the breaking of Thangorodrim resulted in the Ered Lithui? Look where Thangorodrim was. It was all the way in the north of Beleriand. Mordor is in the southeast of Middle-earth! If the aftereffects of the Breaking were that powerful, then almost all of Middle-earth should have been devastated. It is physically impossible for the Breaking to have anything to do with the formation of the Ash Mtns.
As for the Inland Sea of Helcar theory, it just might work. I'm sure that most of you are familiar with plate tectonics. I am assuming that Middle-earth was geologically built the same as our Earth. The plate underneath the Inland Sea of Helcar could have been moving against the surrounding plates, causing them to buckle. The same convergent action has caused the Andes Mtns. in South America. The buckling could have also caused rifts to open up underneath the Sea, effectively draining it. What is left is a crater-like depression, Mordor.
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Old 05-28-2003, 10:49 AM   #26
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Quote:
It was all the way in the north of Beleriand. Mordor is in the southeast of Middle-earth! If the aftereffects of the Breaking were that powerful, then almost all of Middle-earth should have been devastated.
A reasonable assessment of that cataclysmic event would say that it was. The rapid submerging of one million square miles is going to have its impact on a continent.

Quote:
As for the Inland Sea of Helcar theory, it just might work. I'm sure that most of you are familiar with plate tectonics. I am assuming that Middle-earth was geologically built the same as our Earth. The plate underneath the Inland Sea of Helcar could have been moving against the surrounding plates, causing them to buckle. The same convergent action has caused the Andes Mtns. in South America. The buckling could have also caused rifts to open up underneath the Sea, effectively draining it. What is left is a crater-like depression, Mordor.
And how else do you explain this sudden shift except for the breaking of Thangorodrim? In the ordinary course of things geologic plates do not move that fast. So, I'm asking, what else could have caused it? It was not there before the fall of Thangorodrim and it was after.
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Old 05-29-2003, 12:43 PM   #27
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The Ambarkanta map in which the sea of Helcar is located where mordor is located in the later maps is from 1930! At that time there were no Hobbits, no ring, no Mordor. In UT it is stated that the Druedain passed south of Mordor and then turning north in the First Age. Also, there are references in Home to the Sea of Rhun in the first age prving that the Ambarkanta map had become invalid after the LotR was written.
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Old 05-29-2003, 02:44 PM   #28
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Kuruharan, I see your point about the event being so catastrophic that all of Beleriand sank. But if the effects on the plate(s) underneath the Sea of Helcar were so powerful, then the rest of Middle-earth would have also been changed, and we don't have any sources stating that. If the plate action was that strong, then a couple of other rifts should have opened up in Eriador, and caused even MORE destruction there. We haven't heard anything about that.
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Old 05-30-2003, 05:10 PM   #29
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Quote:
The Ambarkanta map in which the sea of Helcar is located where mordor is located in the later maps is from 1930! At that time there were no Hobbits, no ring, no Mordor. In UT it is stated that the Druedain passed south of Mordor and then turning north in the First Age. Also, there are references in Home to the Sea of Rhun in the first age prving that the Ambarkanta map had become invalid after the LotR was written.
Perhaps, but it still provides something to go on.

Quote:
then the rest of Middle-earth would have also been changed, and we don't have any sources stating that. If the plate action was that strong, then a couple of other rifts should have opened up in Eriador, and caused even MORE destruction there. We haven't heard anything about that.
This is true, and perhaps there was. There was not anyone of particular importance living there at the time, so we don't have their stories. There is a certain lack of records from this area in that time. (And the description of the Breaking is a bit vague.)
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Old 05-31-2003, 04:40 PM   #30
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The point about the Sea of Helcar drawings being very early in Tolkien's work is valid, but at the same time he could have and maybe did (I still have HoME X-XII, to go) refine the conception in any number of ways. My understanding is that the "Ambarkanta" maps rather loosely relate to simply the time after the Chaining of Melkor. Therefore, by the more proper, historical "First Age", and the eastward passing of the Edain and Druedain, the Sea of Helcar was plausibly quite well drained by a combination of uplifting, widening of its outlet to Belgaer, and expansion of ice caps, and Mordor has largely appeared.

My recent readings of HoME VI-IX left me with that kind of an impression. In those books, the conception of the Mordorian mountains begins as a much less remarkarble juxtaposition of mountain chains. In time, Tolkien obviously felt that they possessed, in fact, a much more exceptional type of fence-like quality.

Karen Fonstand's Atlas's best contribution is to show how much geological forces can explain Tolkien's world. I doubt he was any more of a Geologist than I am, which ain't much, but he clearly observed the physical world. For example, the downs and hills of Eriador, which are meant to have considerable elevation, Fonstad very credibly explains through a complex and unlikely combination of ancient/extreme volcanism, subsequent tectonic spreading and then prolonged/uneven erosion---merely, a conceivable albeit uncommom combination in our world.

Still, as much as Middle-Earth can be described in terms of natural geology, we don't have the foggiest idea about fundamental relationships, such as dry land compared to global water and the relative amounts of that as were liquid or frozen. Without such information, so much is possible. Tweak some of Earth's qualities and you end of with Mars or Venus.

Also, Tolkien seems to really emphasize instances of hills and mountains, for which the land on one side was substantially higher than on the other, hence "The Rammas" and the frequency of "downs". My sense is that the valley's of the Greyflood and Lune were thousands of feet lower than even the northerly flatlands between them. Indeed, Morder as whole could be a lower, more compact Tibetan-like plateau surrounded by a fringe of mountains. The ascent to Kirith Ungol, even with the help of an incredibly long subterrainean passages takes much more time than the descent on the other side.

Returning to Eriador, I speculate that Tolkien may have been thinking in terms of British-like geology that is then extended and made more severe in all demensions on a North American like scale.

Also, the blank areas on Tolkien's maps are not necessarily in all cases, flat, featureless voids. North of the Ered Lithui there could be much that Tolkien was unsure about that would make the Ash Mountains less extraordinary. For example, The Hobbit says how Erebor was connected to the Grey Mountains, but that from most vantage points the connection was obscured, such that the Mountain's loneliness was more appearance than truly bizarre.

For Mordor, one has to consider the multiple impacts of volcanism, tectonics, glaciation and erosion. The Anduin and the Entwash would have broken up topography in ways, such that the North-South line of the Ephel Duath would have otherwise been much less remarkable and disconnected from the virtually Himilayan mastiff of the Ered Nimrais.

With the interior of Mordor, and presumably the surrounding mountains, especially those of "ash," one sees a concentratrion and intensity of surface volcanism that is comparable to having Iceland, Yellowstone and Hawaii all in one area, and a situation in which a line of surface rifts was twisted at a right angle.

After one considers the plausible conincidence of these primary forces of nature, there is in my view still room for the direct effects or indirect consequences associated with "secondary power," to use Fonstad's words, arising from the War of Wrath, Sauron at the height of his Second-Age power, and the Drowning of Numenor.

Considering only the War of Wrath, recall that the inundation of Beleriand was not a deliberate occurrence, but rather a result of power unleashed (kaos if you will) between the Valar and Angband, which supposedly did affect the landscape well beyond Beleriand, and Mordor is not all that far away. Tolkien makes clear that north and west of the line running from the Sea of Umbar to the Sea of Rhun, we are dealing only with the Northwest of Middle-Earth.

[ May 31, 2003: Message edited by: Man-of-the-Wold ]

[ May 31, 2003: Message edited by: Man-of-the-Wold ]
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Old 06-02-2003, 09:47 PM   #31
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i think that by melkor but not directly you see what i think happened is melkor created a form of water orc/demon and he had them raise them out of stones and silt and time compressed them PS what the heck was the pillar of illun
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Old 06-06-2003, 07:46 AM   #32
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The Pillar of Illuin was one of two huuuuge mountains in the world on top oif which Lamps made by the Valar (basically gods) were palced, and so the world had light. Unfortuantely, Melkor (also known later by the Elves as Morgoth, the Black Enemy) tore down the pillars (mountains) and cast down the lmaps, plunging the world into darkness and almost physically destorying it as well.
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Old 06-11-2003, 07:49 PM   #33
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tectonic plates wouldn't work because if you look @ a map, there aren't any around there in the real world.
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Old 08-04-2003, 03:04 PM   #34
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Just a thought I had.

Since the Pillar of Illuin was at the same site as the Sea of Helcar and later Mordor, could the Mountains of Mordor be what's left of the bottom of Illuin?
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Old 08-05-2003, 01:31 PM   #35
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That a good idea. Also think of might wight that these pilars must hav had. When they were once removed, the land on which they had lastes would certainly go up relativly fast. As example for that you can take Scandinavia which is still moving upward today since the masses of ice were removed that had covered that region in the last period of cold climat. The pillars of the lamps must have been much haevier than a the glaciers. (Even if we take the old story that they were build by Melko out of ice.)

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Old 08-05-2003, 02:08 PM   #36
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Perhaps the building of Illuin caused a depression to be made in the land, resulting in the crater-like formation of Mordor. The land beneath the "tower" could have sunk, while the land around it could have stayed at the same level. In order to throw it down, Morgoth could have raised up Mt. Doom, and caused a massive eruption, which would have severely weakened the foundations of the pillar.
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Old 08-05-2003, 02:48 PM   #37
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In PoME, "Last writings", note 14, CT writes "[Mordor] Maybe already an Elvish name for that region, because its volcano Orodruin and its eruptions - which were not made by Sauron but were a relic of the devastating works of Melkor in the long first age.)". It is not clear if these are the words of JRRT. If not, on what ground did CT make this statement Anyway, the passage seems to imply that? Mordor was created in the early wars and definitely not later than the Battle of Powers. It don't believe in the Fonstad's Helcar theory, because the sea of Rhun already existed during the Great Journey of the Elves. The Ambarkanta map was made long before Tolkien invented Mordor and cannot be taken to seriously.
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Old 11-21-2003, 07:35 PM   #38
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Based off of the depression made by the Pillar of Illuin theory, I wonder if this might be true. Say that this theoretical depression was the "bowl' in which Helcar formed. Naturally, being depressed by a pillar (which would have to have a flat base to stand up-right), the Sea would probably be a relativly shallow one. Somehow, Helcar dried up, and virtually disappeared leaving its high shores and shallow basin. When the mega-volcano (the one that created the region of Űdun at the northwest corner of Mordor*) erupted, its lava flows followed the ancient shores of Helcar, and also spread slowly out into the basin. Thus creating the low, ringing mountains and the plateau inside.

*I don't know of any info in Tolkien's work supporting the theory of Űdun being the caldera of an old imploded mega-volcano, but I read in the Atlas of Middle Earth and it makes pretty good sense.

"A caldera is the remnant of a volcano that has exploded and/or collapsed. A ring-dike is a circular ridge of cooled igeneous rock surrounding a deep valley. It occurs when a round block subsides into an underlying magma chamber and the fluid magma is forced up around the edges. Often the upwelling is intermittent, leaving passes such as the Isenmouth and Cirith Gorgor. Either procees could have resluted in the feature shown by Tolkien, although compared with our world either would have been gigantic. Imagine the original height of a volcano with a forty-five-mile base. This colossus would have towered almost 29,000 feet! In contrast Mt. Doom was only seven miles across and stood 4500 feet" (Fonstad).
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Old 02-23-2005, 12:05 PM   #39
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Bump.

This has some mild relevance to some things discussed in the Bk. 3 Ch. 11 thread.
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Old 02-23-2005, 12:33 PM   #40
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tectonic plates

tectonic plates:

http://geology.er.usgs.gov/eastern/plates.html

check out how square the India plate is; and the phillipine plate is sort of diamond-shaped. Also-- the carribean plate looks crunchy on both sides, to me.

Some fascinating geometries on the pacific floor:
http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/text/Hawaiian.html

Pamphlet as a whole is very interesting.
http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/text/dynamic.html
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