I am writing a story, and it takes place in a solar system way far off from our own. One of the planets, Veynerth, is a dry, deserty planet, but in certain areas there is high volcanic activity. However, the species that live on this planet and have mostly civilized it actually live inside of dormant volcanoes and the areas around it. I don't know if that would really be possible, and I have been trying to make it seem more plausible. The one thing that helps is that it's sci-fi, and we don't even know what type of worlds are out there, so there's some room for unexplained things.

The "aliens" are much like humans. They have thicker eyelashes to protect their eyes from falling ash, etc. but their hair is also thicker. Their skin is dry and some areas are almost scaley. Their eyes are adapted to see in dark conditions. Some help with the features and how the species SHOULD be would also be helpful.

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    $\begingroup$ The main question is why. What is the reason for them to be inside the volcanoes? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Mar 14, 2018 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ An entire civilization or species that only lives in/on dormant volcanoes seems unlikely. Is that what you're looking for? Without something actively keeping them away from other types of terrain they would spread out, just as we did. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Mar 14, 2018 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @rek see my below comment $\endgroup$
    – Alyssa S.
    Mar 14, 2018 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ A desert planet with lots of volcanic activity would be very problematic for life developing and for e.g. ongoing agriculture. I think it's also quite difficult to identify a dormant volcano and I wonder if any volcanoes that were thought to be dormant have ever erupted without warning ? $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ The aliens would only live within a volcano's caldera if they couldn't live outside. Two reason's off the top of my head: its freezing outside and the only habitable temperature is inside the caldera; alternatively, the aliens have evolved to breathe $SO_2$, and will suffocate if they leave. The problem with both these theories and the OP's scenario is that this explains one volcano. Either parallel evolution took place across dozens of volcanoes, or the aliens were able to migrate to other volcanoes without benefit of maps, over deadly terrain. Neither option is particularly believable. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Mar 14, 2018 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


Your scenario is very similar to the communities of organisms that live around deep sea vents.

deep sea tube worms deep sea vent barnacles

As @nzaman alludes to in the comments, the vent offers resources not available otherwise on the ocean floor - chemical energy for the taking and heat. Your volcanoes can be exactly the same - they provide chemistry and heat that the aliens cannot get elsewhere on their world.

@nzaman comment about dispersal is also exactly relevant to deep sea vents. How do vent creatures traverse the dark freezing wastes of the ocean bottom to colonize other vents?


Here’s the catch: The vents are distributed intermittently along mid-ocean ridges—the long volcanic mountain chains that bisect the seafloor throughout the globe. These vents “turn on” and “turn off,” fueled by the ebbs and flows of hot magma beneath the seafloor.

So how do the larvae, tinier than specks of dust, maintain their populations in such a patchy, transient environment? How do they get transported from one active vent site to another that might be tens of miles or more away?

The answer: larval forms with onboard resources to weather the trip that make use of ocean currents between vents.

So too your aliens. They need to have a dispersal phase that can traverse the waste in search of new volcanoes. Maybe larval forms? Or maybe they are like ants or termites - a winged generation is born which leaves their ancestral volcano and sets off in search of new lands.

  • $\begingroup$ The aliens are described as being "much like humans" which would, in my mind, rule out a winged larval stage. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Mar 15, 2018 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ @rek - but humans can gear up and trek across the unknown. Maybe every 30 years certain children were chosen at birth to be the travelers and this group set out when they came of age. This would all be history, of course - to explain how the intelligent humanoid aliens colonized the entirety of the planet volcano by volcano. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Mar 15, 2018 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ @WillK that's an amazing idea, and in the world I set this in, it makes perfect sense! I have been struggling with the history of the planet and that gives me a really good starting point- their ancestors travelling far across the dangerous planet, colonizing it to what it currently is, and it still leaves space for important discoveries, big events, etc. Thank you so much for your contribution $\endgroup$
    – Alyssa S.
    Mar 15, 2018 at 17:59

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