Block of the Week: Deepslate

A deep dive into a hot block!

In the deepest parts of the overworld, where silverfish scuttle about and the air tastes stale, you’ll find that the character of the rock changes. The intense heat and pressure exerted on the stone at this level changes its structure, making it tougher and more resilient. We call this rock “deepslate”, and it’s our block of the week!

Deepslate is a relatively new discovery. Mojang’s geology team first encountered it in late 2020, showing it off during Minecraft Live 2020. It was originally named “grimstone”, but after a while we opted for a different approach. Brandon Pearce, gameplay developer, explains:

The reason is that we felt the name "grim" had too many connotations to a feeling rather than describing what it is. Generally, we don't enforce feelings, as they should be up to player interpretation. Because of this, we opted for a name that describes the journey it took to get, as well as the location in the world. It also more accurately represents that it is a type of slate. It's important that we follow our design principles in the game, even if grimstone sounds cooler.

Brandon Pearce, Gameplay Developer

Deepslate can be found beginning at y-level 8, and by the time you get to y-level 0 it makes up almost the entirety of the solid blocks. Mine it out with a pickaxe and you’ll get cobbled deepslate, which can be smelted back into deepslate in a furnace.

As you’re digging through the deepslate, you’re still likely to encounter the ores that you find above – they just take longer to mine, because the rock surrounding them is harder. Be wary, though – if a block of deepslate crumbles quickly under your pick, it’s probably full of holes dug by silverfish, and these strange creatures will likely attack.

Mojang’s geology teams are still investigating the area where deepslate is found, and several of those teams have gone missing recently. Survivors that did make it back arrived babbling about huge, ancient, palace-like structures deep underground, some sort of shrieking plant, and a terrifying darkness that can only be escaped by staying totally silent. It’s probably just their imagination, so once they calm down a bit, we’ll send them back down again to investigate further.

In the real world, deepslate is just called “slate” and forms in much the same way as it does in Minecraft - far below the ground, under conditions of extreme heat and pressure. In a few places, though, that slate has been heaved upward through the process of plate tectonics, and so you’ll find it at on the surface in a few countries – Spain, Wales, Brazil, China, and Australia. 

Slate’s crystal structure makes it form into sheets that can be separated using special tools. The smoothness and flatness of these sheets, combined with the way they don’t absorb much water, make them really useful in roofing and floor tiles. Slate was also used in many early electrical equipment, as it doesn’t conduct electricity and is fireproof.

In Minecraft, deepslate is mainly decorative. But that doesn’t stop you from making roofing and floor tiles out of it for a rustic countryside mansion feel. The only limit is your imagination!

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere