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How would humans or an advanced civilization control earthquakes and volcanoes and even, if possible, harness their energy? By control, we mean the ability to stop or trigger or accelerate or dampen quakes and volcanic eruptions, etc.

The technology is not limited to modern-day technologies.

Eg: can balls or super magnets under buildings allow them to survive quake better. Or can we use magnetic coils to store and disperse the energy due to quake vibrations. Is that even possible?

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    $\begingroup$ It's difficult to see how this might have a "best answer" without defining the technology available, because answers at present will depend on people's different assumptions. If you can narrow it down a bit, then that would help. $\endgroup$ Jul 7 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ "How" meaning "by what means" or "what for"? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jul 7 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @alexander , how means by what means. $\endgroup$
    – mukul215
    Jul 7 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ @ a rogue ant , I am open to any technology more advanced than what we have in 2021 and advanced enough to allow the civilization to control the events mentioned in question. $\endgroup$
    – mukul215
    Jul 7 at 16:47
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To be able to control earthquakes and volcanoes, we have to first understand them. We do not fully understand either. Actually, we know very little about both of them.

Our current understanding of earthquakes involves several mechanisms. The most common are due to plate tectonics where either plates are moving apart, squishing into each other, or moving past each other. Unfortunately, there are earthquakes in places where none of those mechanisms fit (such as the New Madrid fault zone).

Our understanding of most earthquakes is that they happen where some fault zone has stopped moving and the underlying plate is still moving. At some point, the movement of the underlying plate puts enough stress on the point that isn't moving to break the rock that is holding the fault stuck and the fault moves. It can move fast enough to actually melt the rock by friction.

So, for these earthquakes, you would need to invent a technology that can:

  1. find where the fault is building up stress

  2. Get down to that point (10-80 km below the surface)

  3. Perform some action to start the fault moving again

There have been man caused earthquakes. Most of these have been caused by injecting waste water deep into a fracture zone at high pressure. We do not know how that fluid moved to the earthquake epicenter nor what the mechanism that triggered those earthquakes. All we know is that when we pumped that stuff down, more earthquakes happened nearby.

Also, we are still experiencing earthquakes on faults we didn't know were there.

Likewise, with volcanoes, we would need to know how to predict them, how to measure the signals that something is happening, and then need to invent some technology that can harness that huge amount of energy release. It has been only in the last few decades that we have been able to do any prediction of volcano activity. Yet, with all the tools we have today, an Alaskan volcano gave less than 24 hours notice before erupting.

To simply harvest some of the energy of a volcano, think of how much heat is produced by one. Volcanoes are driven by mantle heat and the eruptions are partly due to water and CO2 changing from super pressured liquids into gas. Some estimates are that we could take a trillion watts of power from Yellowstone but the water requirements would be huge.

Frankly, we would not want to cause eruptions, we would want to stop them. Pulling the heat out would slow them down significantly.

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  • $\begingroup$ I read somewhere that putting magnets or something like that under buildings can mean that in the event of a quake, the solid base under the buildings would detach - handing over control to magnets - and allow the buildings to levitate until the quake passes out. Or use magnetic coils to store and disperse the energy due to quake vibrations. Is that even possible? $\endgroup$
    – mukul215
    Jul 8 at 2:18
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    $\begingroup$ @mukul215 That might be possible for a small building. As a building gets larger, the weight becomes far too great to levitate. Other techniques would need to be used. See online.norwich.edu/academic-programs/resources/… for some. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Jul 8 at 17:50
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It has been reckoned that if we built a big geothermal power station on Yellowstone, it would be possible to drain away the heat from the mantle plume as fast as it accumulated, thereby indefinitely preventing the next catastrophic eruption, and obtaining clean renewable energy as a byproduct. So that's a technique that could prevent at least some volcanic eruptions.

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TL;DR lots of energy, and super-strength materials.

Energy source

To harness the power of a volcano you need some advanced materials and drilling techniques. In several novels there are materials that either natively or through electromagnetic or handwavy modifications are "indestructible" for this purpose (i.e. they can withstand pressure, torque and heat well enough); Laurence Dahners' stade, David Adams' indestructium and so on. Drive as many double pipes as you need inside a volcano, then pump water down the inner pipe, get water vapour off the outer pipe, and hey pronto!, you can run a turbine setup.

Dampen volcanoes

This is much more difficult because you need to interfere with the "hot spot" under the volcano. And the hot spot has an incredible quantity of heat you need to get rid of. You don't want that heat in the environment, so you need tuned radiative coolers (basically, black bodies heated at exactly one thousand Celsius degrees, surrounded by materials that reflect infrared below 8 micrometers but are trasparent above that. This allows to radiate heat through a clear atmosphere and into space).

The difficulty here is that you would need an enormous radiative surface.

Stimulate volcanoes

The mechanism for both is the opposite of the above. You need to heat up a hot spot; this would be done by increasing the radioactive heat plume underneath. Some sort of "neutrino laser" would need to be focused in the exact volume, to increase thermal emission through reverse beta decay. This assumes that suitable isotopes are present in that volume and in sufficient quantities. Also, since neutrinos are absorbed only with great difficulty, this method is horribly inefficient, requiring a monstrous amount of energy, and a measurable negative effect would manifest for a significant distance around the focus.

Other means of transferring energy deep underground might involve focused seismic waves, or very powerful nuclear fusion devices delivered through shafts (indestructium drills again required).

In some places you might just need to open a shaft and let internal pressure do the rest (for example, Dahners' stade could be used to drive a pipe, stazed in cylindrical sections, at practically any depth. Once enough material was removed from the inside of the pipe, the pressure would do the rest.

Dampen earthquakes

Drilling again is required, plus some way of exactly mapping stresses in rock. Once you know how a fault line is holding, you can frack the key points to release compressive stresses a little at a time, converting a five-minute 7.0 Richter scale quake into a five-year long sequence of piloted low-threshold temblors. Or you can cut around the fault line, again providing release (the underground compression will close the cut, relieving itself. Then you reopen the cut. An earthquake can move the fault line by up to two meters: if you provide those two meters by way of a cut, the compressive force will go into sealing the cut).

With enough energy and waste heat management, you can maybe do this with a laser (the water table would be a significant problem though: and you need to drive the cut all the way to the depth of the epicenter. For the San Andreas fault line, that's at least fifteen kilometers).

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They're in the Matrix

At some point, this advanced civilization realized that they all lived in a simulation and focused all their efforts on reaching the outside world. Along the way, they found various bugs (or, as a programmer would call them, features) that allowed a degree of control over certain parts of the simulation. One of these bugs allows a copy of the energy from earthquakes, volcanoes, and various other events to be moved somewhere the civilization wants, probably into machines that can convert motion and heat to electricity, e.g. hydroelectric dams or heat engines.

See the Wikipedia article on the simulation hypothesis.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please explain a touch more. Ate the volcanoes simulation too? Otherwise how would an online bug work in the real world volcano? Sorry, I could understand it. $\endgroup$
    – mukul215
    Jul 8 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @mukul215 The entire world would be a simulation, so yes, volcanoes would be included in that. The "real world" could have entirely different physics and stuff and would not necessarily look anything like the simulation in which the civilization lives. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 8 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ But then how to power the real life machines you mentioned? $\endgroup$
    – mukul215
    Jul 8 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ @mukul215 What real life machines? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 8 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @mukul215 They’re in the simulation too. The entire world in which the civilization exists is in a simulation. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 9 at 2:03
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The advanced people would get out of the way, and marvel at a distance.

Consider wolves. If we explained to our medieval ancestors that we were bringing back wolves, they would be astonished. If we told them we were trying to protect whales, or let trees grow just because they are trees, they would struggle to understand. "Protecting wetlands" because they are wetlands would be a baffling concept.

In the future, our descendants live in harmony with the planet. Geologic cataclysms can be predicted. People then get out of the way and watch and listen and party, celebrating the planet and its workings. The living Earth is marvelous and is viewed with wonder and reverence. Quashing the movements of the breathing earth is as bad as damming a river or paving a forest.

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    $\begingroup$ I am not only looking to quash the events. I might let them happen and collect energy of them. Or trigger them. Again, to collect the energy. Or stop them. So is it possible? If yes, is it profitable? I am worried about controlling them be aise I don't feel my civilization can go from 0 to 1 without doing it. $\endgroup$
    – mukul215
    Jul 7 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ “For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.” ~ Jacques Cousteau $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 7 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Noice, lol, rolf $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jul 8 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ I am sorry. But in trying to be witty, you have made it a tad bit difficult to understand the answer. If you could use straight, simple english please. $\endgroup$
    – mukul215
    Jul 9 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ @mukul215 for energy extraction - quakes not worth it, vulcanoes if making them permanent eruption stations maybe, but yeah not clear how it affects quakes situation. Generally 10m layer of nanomachines on the planet(or under cities) will get you covered, but energy extraction will be a byproduct which happens once a year decade. Really why would you beg for crumbles when you can have a whole cow, that's beyond me - future possibilities are not meant to lose reasons, but as per the answer, lol, fossils opinion may be wrong // put nickname thing to notify a person $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jul 9 at 6:17

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