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I have a city which will be completely submerged in water due to a catastrophic earthquake. It is placed on a cliff side, so that it will drop directly into the ocean. Technology is similar to the Renaissance era and it is a low magic setting.

How can I use geology to indicate that this city is vulnerable, and that the ground beneath it is unstable in some way? Would it be realistic to have caverns underneath a high cliff?

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    $\begingroup$ Foreshadowing is a storytelling technique, not really a worldbuilding element. So you can do it any way you like. Here's one way to really slap readers in the face with it: "The smallest of the low clouds were the most fleeting, dancing like fish swimming to and fro among the fallen, arrogant towers of men" $\endgroup$ – user535733 Feb 18 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ Cassandra, a Geologist at New Atlantis University, takes up cave-diving and keeps asking peers to read her latest paper on the faults she found underneath the city. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Feb 18 at 0:35
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    $\begingroup$ You could salvage this question by editing to ask "what signs would foreshadow a cliff's collapse" or "what geologic processes would create an unstable cliff strong enough to support a city?" Right now, this question straddles the line between creating a world and writing about it, but it can definitely be edited to be on-topic depending on what specific part of the cliffs you need help designing. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 18 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra yes... those edits are what I was thinking of originally. The word “foreshadowing” was throwing people off the question’s core. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 18 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ Erosion is a relatively slower process. The question is about an earthquake setting off a sudden collapse. Aside from “This city is on a cliff, therefore it’s precarious” what geological indicators can I use to show that the city is in a bad spot? And yes, it would of course be in complete ruins. $\endgroup$ – creative-username Feb 18 at 5:13
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Having the cliffs be weak doesn't mean anything by itself unless the reader also knows an earthquake is a possibility. The best foreshadowing is probably to have a similar effect happening at a smaller scale. Small tremors occur on occasion and parts of the cliff fall off. Perhaps there was a famous building with a cliff-side view which partially collapsed during a previous tremor.

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There are other cities like it, already underwater.

This is not the first cliffside city. There are others, well known to the protagonists. Some are still up on the cliffs. Others are in the water. Rule of cool: the ruined spires and domes of the fallen city can be seen down there on a clear day. Maybe divers go down and come back with tiles or ornaments they can sell.

There are legends around these sunken cities. They are old. Your protagonists might not know that these cities fell in the water, or not all of them know. They might not know why. They will figure it out.

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