I've filled up two double chests with gold blocks as well as 16 double chests with iron blocks - that's 62,208 gold and 497,664 iron; I'm on track to mine half a million iron ore within two more play sessions (currently at 499,092. I'd already have more than half a million iron stored, including 64 iron blocks in the floor, if I did not have to make 72 anvils):
My storage area is getting quite big (though still amazingly small compared to the number of resources it stores, especially if they were placed in the world as blocks), with a total of 242 double chests, most in 11 corridors of 16 each, including three for coal, two for iron, one each for redstone and lapis, one for gold/diamond/emerald/misc blocks, two for moss stone and one for cobwebs:
I took this screenshot by copying the region file my main base is in to a test world and using MCEdit to delete everything above my storage area; the blocks in the floor correspond to what is in most of the chests, with the short corridor extending down near the middle mostly containing chest loot with item frames marking their contents (the bottom-most four chests contain wool which was crafted with string from cobwebs until I used Silk Touch; the corridor for cobwebs also uses wool to mark its contents):
Also, I saved renderings from 10 days worth of playing and compiled them into the biggest animation of my progress that I've made so far; this shows everything that I explored since the last cave system I mentioned:
Here is a before and after of what I explored using Unmined (unexplored chunks were trimmed away); the new area I explored is about 700x700 blocks and goes as far south as z = 3296, well off the southern edge of the map and the furthest I've ever gone from the origin in one direction as well straight-line distance from spawn (about 3500 blocks. I've gone further from spawn in one direction when exploring to the east since spawn is at -92, 236, making the distance to the south 328 blocks shorter for the same distance along an axis); as well as updated MCMap renderings of the entire world (scaled to 10% of original size, as seen in the animation above. I've actually been updating these by stitching together smaller areas and I don't think I can even open a full-size rendering):
Here are some screenshots I took of various caves:
I went through a mineshaft fast enough that parts of it were still burning from lava by the time I reached them:
This is a good example of why I modified mineshafts so they do not generate in areas with high cave density (the method I use is not perfect and works best for larger cave systems (overall) and cave systems with a few larger single-chunk cave systems as opposed to multiple smaller ones):
I found a zombie in diamond armor today, one and a half months after the last one:
Also, after a longer than usual play session (4 hours and 12 minutes) I reached a total of more than half a million iron ore mined (I did not intentionally play until I reached the goal; I did not check to see how much I'd mined until I stopped playing):
I've also mined more than 11,000 diamond ore as of today, after surpassing 10,000 on August 17 (74 days ago), which represents an average of 13.5 per day (at this rate it would take about 815 days to mine the total, so this is mainly a product of the sheer amount of time I've spent caving, not efficiency; even with an above-average number of diamonds found today I averaged only 6.2 diamond ore per hour, 6.67 diamonds per hour including two from a mineshaft).
Also, here are some screenshots of caves I explored as well as a before/after rendering of what I explored today; you can see that I finished exploring an area to the right (mainly a mineshaft, plus some caves and a ravine) before leaving that area and going to an area I'd previously marked to the northwest, where I finished exploring a cave system, then I went through a ravine going to the north with more caves leading from the northern end. Yet another ravine, not explored yet, is near the northern end of those caves:
The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Oh that looks fun!!
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I found one of the densest cave systems that I've ever found, with a huge semi-open chamber in the center. Even the surface, where caves are usually less common, was a complete mess from all of the intersecting tunnels:
I analyzed the area around the cave system and found a total of 87 caves within a 3x3 chunk area, including a single chunk with 54 caves - the second highest that I've found in any cave system that I've analyzed (one other cave system had 54 while the most was 58; in theory as many as 156 caves can generate in a single chunk in 1.6.4. Even 1.7+ can have as many as 56 although both of these are virtually certain to not actually occur in any seed):
Seed is -123775873255737467
Center is -1920, 3024 (chunk -120, 189)
Radius is 1 chunks (circular)
Version used is <= 1.6.4
Size 24 cave system at -1936, 3008; total number of caves: 32
Size 1 cave system at -1904, 3008; total number of caves: 1
Size 31 cave system at -1904, 3040; total number of caves: 54
Number of cave systems: 3
Initial number of caves: 56
Total number of caves: 87
Additional circular room caves: 31
Number of small caves: 85; average width is 5.87
Number of large caves: 2; average width is 11.79
Number of circular rooms: 19; average width is 9.90
Additional caves per circular room: 1.63
Average caves per chunk: 9.666667 (9 chunks)
Average altitude: 31.39
Percentage of caves on layers 0 to 9: 26.44
Percentage of caves on layers 10 to 19: 19.54
Percentage of caves on layers 20 to 29: 14.94
Percentage of caves on layers 30 to 39: 3.45
Percentage of caves on layers 40 to 49: 5.75
Percentage of caves on layers 50 to 59: 13.79
Percentage of caves above layer 59: 16.09
That said, in terms of overall size and density I've still yet to find a cave system that surpasses the one I found around -800, -1050 over four years ago, which has twice as many caves spread over about twice the area:
Here is a series of renderings of the cave system; surface at night, below sea level, below layer 20, and y=11:
Also, I explored the entire cave system in 3 hours and 50 minutes and mined a total of 3758 ore, including 47 diamonds; the total amount of ore is less than what I've found in other recent large cave systems in terms of ore found per individual cave/tunnel (about 43 each) due to the high density while I found about 3.5 times the average amount of diamond per session.
Just two weeks after the last one I saw yet another zombie in diamond armor, and it dropped its chestplate, which had Protection II and Thorns I, which is only the third piece of diamond armor that I've gotten (I've also gotten a chestplate with Fire Protection I and Thorns I and leggings with Fire Protection I):
This is the third one that I've seen in two months, which is quite a lot considering that I've seen about 9 total over close to 29 months of daily playing, or more than 3 months between each one; prior to then the average was one every 4 1/2 months (one month is about 105 hours of playtime).
Also, I've explored around most of what appears to be the western boundary of the spawn continent within the current map (x = -3072 to -1024, z = 1024 to 3072); there is more land to the south but I don't plan to go any further (or as far as the current cave/mineshaft complex extends):
There may still be more land to the west of my current location (a swamp, not ocean), and there appears to be a desert to the south, near the bottom, but there probably isn't much more. I also still plan to fill in the gap to the north, for which I'll return to the previous base I made, to the north of the Mushroom Island to the west since it is closer than the current one, around which there are more caves extending eastwards which I had not explored at the time since I didn't know how much ocean there was (as I generally stay within a couple hundred blocks of land. I did not explore westwards from the land to the east since I didn't find any caves going further west, the extension to the north also has an unexplored mineshaft at the northern end).