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I am writing a story where a moderately advanced race of aliens arrive on an earth-like planet and terraform it, even using technology to immediately create landforms. However, this only takes place in the prologue and the next chapter features a human scientist explaining to a group of students how the terraforming process occured.

My question is how would the process of immediately creating landforms be explained in a suitable and non-generic or vague way.

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closed as too broad by Chickens are not cows, AlexP, Cyn, JBH, elemtilas Jun 30 at 1:47

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site GGWP, when you have a few minutes, please take the tour and read up in our help center about how we work: How to Ask. This seems to qualify as too story-based, what you seem to be asking about is a narrative necessity, which would be off-topic here. Refer to the help center, you'll get the hang of the culture here. $\endgroup$ – Chickens are not cows Jun 29 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ The pyramids. Kurgans. The Suez Canal. The Salton Sea. A large part of the Netherlands. Silbury Hill. The many tells of the ancient Near (= "Middle" in American) East. Lake Nasser. No alien technology required. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 29 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ Hi GGWP. I suspect this question isn't ready for prime time and could benefit from our Sandbox. As is, the question is either (a) downvotable for insufficient research (you can search online for terraforming ideas, requirements, and technologies) or (b) too broad in that you're asking us to invent an entire technology tree for you. Stack Exchange's model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. SE is not a discussion forum. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 29 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ Two questions worth pondering. 1) Why do you need a non-generic way. Sanderson's First Rule of Magic works for sci-fi too, and saves a lot of trouble. 2) What do you mean by "immediately?" Are we talking fractions of a second, years, or a million years (which is "immediate" on a geological scale)? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jun 29 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ This is way too broad, can you specify? $\endgroup$ – H Franklin Jul 2 at 16:13
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Research into how the aliens accomplished their terraforming is still underway.

The planet where this took place has been discovered by humans. The aliens responsible are long gone or perhaps noncommunicative in their current state. Humans are researching this planet and how it was molded, and understand the technology to varying degrees.

I could imagine landforms being molded by manipulating plate tectonics. One could manipulate plate tectonics by manipulating currents of magma driving them from beneath. You could manipulate magmatic flow by manipulating the electromagnetic forces of the planet interior. The scientist can go on to say that this is the current hypothesis of how it was done, and given the short period and huge energies involved probably done first before subsequent terraforming was done. How the aliens manipulated the electromagnetic fields of a planet core is still unknown but of course an active area of research.

He can go on to say that other aspects of the planet surface are better understood - certain mountains and one island chain are obviously composed of asteroids from the outer reaches of the system. He can note that these metallic mountains although millions of years old are still measurably sinking into the crust year by year. How they were brought in for soft landings on the planet surface is still not understood.

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