I would like to eliminate entire human race, by turning Earth into second, world-sized Pompeii. I'd like to destroy all "habitable areas" so that human population would be effectively reduced to zero as an effect of just the global volcanoes eruption.

Assuming that this is possible at all (using only volcanoes) what cause could make all volcanoes to erupt in the same time?

Initially, I thought about drilling very deeply and triggering a serie of nuclear explosions beneath Earth surface. But, it seems that we don't have enough nuclear bombs (and enough money) to artificially trigger just a single volcano eruption. Not mentioning all of them.

Is there anything that I could use today or in a near future (the world / story, in which I'd like include this, is placed in 2079.)

  • $\begingroup$ I see 2 similar questions from you, which I think request the same answer. If so, could you remove one? $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Sep 8 '20 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ For me these are two separate questions. It's like asking whether we have enough water to flood entire planet surface (and make it ocean planet) in one question and asking how to achieve this in separate question. BTW: There was a large discussion (nearly comment-war) here, over one of my (now deleted) questions, which included all of them that I asked, in one, single-post. I was asked to ask for each aspect in separate question, so I would like to not reverse this process. $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Sep 8 '20 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ so your question is with one "is it possible", and with the other "how to trigger it"? I would advice first asking the one question and based on the answer ask your other question. That way you can refer to the other post, making your case stronger. Now nearly the same text is in both, making at least me dismiss it as the same question. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Sep 8 '20 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ I see your point, but I still can't see the connection between these two questions. If the first question brings negative answer (no, there is no volcanoes and volcanic materials to cover entire planet) it will not invalidate the second question, where I ask how to trigger all volcanoes in the same time (and the third question, which asks about environmental impact of such). At least that's my current point of view. Feel free to correct me. $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Sep 8 '20 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ According to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's similar episode, one straighforward method involves kidnapping a sexy geologist and secretly planting a lot of big "laser drills" that you can chain your enemies to. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Sep 8 '20 at 16:28

I've come up with about 20 different suggestions on how to do it, they either:

  • Are so ludicrous not even DR Evil would attempt them (A giant electromagnet in space to pull the core towards to crust). Or
  • Would destroy humanity on their own (eg 3 nukes per volcano!). Or
  • Probably wont work (Eg Find asteroid made of dry ice. Crash into erupting volcano at high speed. Instant carbonated magma planet wide)

However there is one that I think will work:

Rods From God v2

In 2003 the Air Force studied a space weapon, they decided it wasn't that practical for anything they needed. But for what you need, I reckon it'll do the trick. With a little extra refinements in version 2.

Basically launch a spacecraft with 1500 of these as high as possible. At least 4000km up.

enter image description here

At carefully timed positions, release each rod with a slight push, so that it gradually shifts into the correct attack position for each volcano.

Then, simultaneously, each ones rocket motor fires and it hurtles towards its chosen volcano.

The 2003 airforce study estimated with a launch from LEO and only a few seconds of thrust they'd impact at Mach 10. Since this is humanities last ever project, we can afford to go all out on it. We put them much higher than LEO, like 10 times as high. We've put a bigger rocket motor on them, and they've a lot more atmosphere-free gravity to help with the acceleration. Ideally the rocket motor should burn all the way to impact. Basically you're slamming 9 tonnes into the earth at hypersonic speeds.

There's some handwaving going on here, and problems conveniently overlooked, but a rocket motor providing ~10g of acceleration for 5 minutes from 4000km should burn all the way to the ground. It'll impact at ~28km/s (mach 80).

The DU towards the front (but behind tracking and heatshield) is to help the rod penetrate through the rock. The DU on a standard bomb can get it through meters of reinforced concrete, and they don't travel at hypersonic speeds.

Basically this is equivalent to a small nuke, with all its energy targeted straight down into a 30cm circle, with one of the densest materials known on the front.

If you can target the magma chamber - I reckon this'll cut a nice small channel to it, forcing a small erruption and weaken the structure, forcing a bigger eruption.

There is a lot of handwaving going on here, I recall seeing that the penetration depth formula broke down at hypersonic speeds, but I can't find that reference. I'm assuming its true. If not - put handwavium on the front instead of DU (it's a newly discovered alloy that's 50 times as dense as DU!), (or make it longer) But I think this is your best bet for near future tech.

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    $\begingroup$ You mention the penetration depth formula, which shows that the depth of a high-velocity projectile is roughly unrelated to its speed, and dependent only on its length and density relative to its target. By that formula, a 6m projectile with a density 6x that of rock will only penetrate about 36m, which will not get you anywhere near the magma chamber of most volcanoes. Even if the formula breaks down for hypersonic speeds, we'd need a couple more orders of magnitude of depth to hit a magma chamber. $\endgroup$ Sep 9 '20 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang Yeah I reckon your right, I can't find where I saw that. Enter a small coating of handwavium. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Sep 9 '20 at 16:44

Geography does not support this

Volcanos are not evenly distributed around the world or near human settlements. There are many around tectonic plate boundaries, but also huge areas without any (like the entire eastern 2/3 or North America). If you are looking for a Pompeii scenario where a settlement is quickly buried in ash, I don't think you can get it. But if you are a little patient, finding a way to trigger all volcanos may cause a global volcanic winter. That would cause drops in temperature, crop failures, and lots of other things that are bad for humans.

A single volcano, Tambora in 1815 effectively cancelled summer that year in this way. Fun fact: Mary Shelley was stuck inside with her friends due to this, they took turns writing scary stories to pass time, and thus Frankenstein was born.

  • $\begingroup$ I think this question deals only with how to trigger eruption of all volcanoes in the Earth in the same time. There is another question asking, if this will be possible to wipe out entire human race. And I think there's an answer there that this would not be enough, but assuming volcanic winter after that, you don't even need to blow all of them. Just a few will be enough. So volcanoes distribution -- you're correct. But volcanic winter -- will do the task even so. $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Oct 31 '20 at 17:22

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