It is pretty much guaranteed that my world would have very intense tectonic activity, plus it would be about 23% smaller than the earth and I have been wondering how that would influence the civilization inhabiting it.

How would an advanced civilization close to achieving an interplanetary status develop it's cities on the planet? Would they built up? With arcologies and similar structures? Or would they build downwards? With underground structures and artificial caves? Or would they mix both things, building both underground and above ground?

Here is a bit more information about the world:

It is a moon of a gas giant, therefore expect a lot of tidal flexing, which would create conditions akin to Japan.

Mass: 0.7 Earths Diameter: 0.88 Earths Density: 5.6 g/cm(3) - Very iron rich

On a side note, if the world's tectonic activity was mainly in the form of volcanism without the earthquakes, how would that affect the civilization's architectural preferences?

  • $\begingroup$ They would prefer to build wide, or build tall, or dig deep, depending on various factors, in areas far from the known volcanoes, obviously. Of course on Earth there are examples of large cities just a few miles from volcanoes, so there would probably be some near to volcanoes in your world. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


Trailer parks.

trailer park


Your people developed on this world. They know how it is. They don't build high and get caught in the building when it collapses. They will not want to live under a heavy roof that will fall on them in the middle of the night during an earthquake - that is as bad as being underground. They will want places that they can pack up and move on short notice if a volcano emerges from the ground. They want light, small, flexible dwellings.

These folks will historically have lived in yurts or tents, and now they will live and work in trailers. Trailers are uniquely earthquake proof - they can withstand going over a bumpy road, they can withstand a shaking. Mobile dwellings are well suited both for low population density nomadic lifestyle and high density urbanism (as laid out in linked article).

  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm not a bad suggestion. However, would you mind addressing the second question as well? What if the earthquakes were nearly nonexistent replaced by considerable volcanism? Would they still use mobile settlements? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ @JuimyTheHyena /They will want places that they can pack up and move on short notice if a volcano emerges from the ground./ - yes! Wouldn't you? A fortress is fine if you are going to repel bandits but if iyou are threatened by lava or ash you want to pack light and move fast. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ Willk Hmmm an excellent point again. Oh something just came to mind, this suggestion could be actually excellent for my lore! Do you think that maybe they'd consider also aerostat settlements? Given that the would world would have 0.9 Gs compared with Earth? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ @JuimyTheHyena - that sounds fun for a fiction and you would probably catch some sweet thermals off Hawaiian style lava. I wonder if air currents would push you along in front of an ash cloud? Good grist for your prose mill! $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ If there was a practical way to have a rail system with variable-width axles on a really wide track, you could accommodate or rapidly fix shifted tracks and have a whole infrastructure sitting on rails with modular buildings. You could have quite large structures assemble and disassemble rapidly. Only the biggest things (blast furnaces, etc.) would need to be fixed. then24.com/2021/08/14/… $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 18:59

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