I want to use the an active large ignious province (LIP) as a "biome" on a continent in my world. This video about the Siberian Traps inspired me. A LIP modeled after the Siberian Traps gives you a vulcanic hellscapes and justification for end of the world prophecies in one. A great deal in my opinion. What I learned about the impact of the Siberian Traps so far is this.

First Phase

  • land has regular earthquakes and has been risen up by several hundred meters

  • 350.000 years flooding and eruptions

  • gases are released; SO2 forms sun-blocking aerosols causing a vulcanic winter, Cl and F damage ozone layer, the resulting increase in UV radiation causes mutations and damage to DNA, HCl and HF cause acid rain, which causes burns and is poisonous)

  • half the area of the USA under ca 2 km of flood basalt shield

  • rest of the world relatively unaffected

Second Phase

  • pressure of the flood basalt inhibits further erruptions

  • lava goes sideways and burns coal and oil deposits

  • carbon is released suddenly as the silts reach the edge of the LIP

  • temperature rises globally by 5 K

  • melting of methanehydrates in the oceans increase temperature by another 5 to 10 K

  • all this stress and possibly an asteroid impact causes The Great Dying

The vulcanism is just what I want, but the gases could be problematic. Acid Rain isn't too bad and could be held moderate. The damage to the ozone layer isn't that bad, as the world orbits a K-Type star. The vulcanic winter has been going on for Millenia as the errption in my world is close to the end of phase one. This the vulcanic winter has become the new normal. Am I right?

The world is currently near the end of phase one. A few thousand years to go until the carbon dioxide is released. Phase two has been forseen by elven sages and is called "The Withering". According to them it will be the begin of another rebirth of the world.

My question is if it is plausible that, apart from some minor symptoms, the world remains a classical medieval fantasy setting?

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    $\begingroup$ Medical Fantasy, now that's a genre I'd love to explore $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Jan 24 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T I mean, all the medical professionals I know consider House to be medical fantasy. =P $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Jan 24 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T Ups xD $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Jan 24 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ i'm not sure what your question is, if it's pausible or how to justify the medieval setting? The later is easy as long as the resources for technology are not found (i.e. carbon, certain minerals), the continent is in a constant state of war, or culture is simply too tradicionalist to seek new ways. $\endgroup$ – maxisalamone Jan 24 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ One problem here might be the time scale. You might want to ask on the Earth Science site for a better answer, but like mountain building, flood basalt eruptions might be imperceptable on a human timescale. For an ongoing example, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 24 at 18:09

Well, the Siberian Traps are one of the suspected causes of the P-T extinction event that wiped out 80% of all life on Earth, so I'm thinking maybe not...


The flood basalt eruptions that produced the Siberian Traps constituted one of the largest known volcanic events on Earth and covered over 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi) with lava. The date of the Siberian Traps eruptions and the extinction event are in good agreement

More importantly though:

The Siberian Traps had unusual features that made them even more dangerous. Pure flood basalts produce fluid, low-viscosity lava and do not hurl debris into the atmosphere. It appears, however, that 20% of the output of the Siberian Traps eruptions was pyroclastic (consisted of ash and other debris thrown high into the atmosphere), increasing the short-term cooling effect. The basalt lava erupted or intruded into carbonate rocks and into sediments that were in the process of forming large coal beds, both of which would have emitted large amounts of carbon dioxide, leading to stronger global warming after the dust and aerosols settled.

So, all of that having been said, if you scaled down from the Siberian traps to a smaller Igneous Province, and made it a pure flood basalt with no pyroclastic complications, that might work better.

Another way you can mitigate the global effects would be to put your LIP one one side of your world's equator where most of your population lives on the other. The mechanics of the Hadley Cells as I understand them would tend to keep volcanic impacts that occur at more than 40 degrees North or South latitide more constrained to their originating hemisphere as long as you aren't having massive effects on the stratosphere.

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  • $\begingroup$ As I understand it many of the bad effects you discribe only occur in phase two. The early few hundred thousand years of the LIP's formation were calmer. $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Jan 24 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ @TheDyingOfLight Ahh, well sure, that'd work. By the way, there's a trilogy that involves something very much like this that won the Hugo Awards three years running from '16 to '18. Very much worth reading. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N._K._Jemisin#Broken_Earth_series $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Jan 24 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ Seems interesting, thanks. $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Jan 24 at 16:03

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