Block of the Week: Tuff

An ash-ionable choice

At the bottom of the world, close to the bedrock, you’ll find that the heat and pressure at these depths produce some pretty rare and special things.

Diamonds are what most people go looking for, but that’s not all. Amongst the lakes of lava, and deposits of deepslate, you’ll also find veins of lapis lazuli, redstone, and our block of the week – tuff.

Tuff was added to Minecraft alongside a bunch of other new rocks like calcite, deepslate, and dripstone, in the first part of the Caves & Cliffs update in June 2021. It’s the name given to volcanic ash which has been compressed into stone deep underground.

In Minecraft, tuff looks a little like cobblestone, but tinted slightly greener, and is pretty easy to mine with any kind of pickaxe. Iron, stone, and even wood pickaxes will give good results – though as usual, the higher-tier pickaxe you use, the faster the mining will go.

It’s solely a decorative block at the time of writing – but it would look particularly good in an Armenian-themed build. The stone is used widely in Armenian architecture, and the country’s capital, Yerevan, is constructed almost entirely out of this substance.

But it’s not only the Armenians who are wild about tuff. The fact that it’s a relatively soft rock means that tuff has been used for construction since ancient times. The Rapa Nui used it to make most of the statues on Easter Island, for example, and it’s also very common in Italy.

The other thing that tuff is very useful for is marking time. Because tuff is laid down over a large area very quickly when a volcano erupts, geologists can use it (with the help of carbon dating) to quickly figure out how old a particular bit of rock is.

But my favourite tuff fact is that the ancient Romans carved it into blocks for construction purposes – just like in Minecraft! Rome’s famous “Servian Walls” were built almost entirely out of tuff blocks in the early 4th century BC to protect the city from invasion.

So next time you’re facing an invasion of zombies in Minecraft, take a tip from the Ancient Romans and hold off the hordes with a wall of tuff. It should be tuff enuff.

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere
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