The setup: A thick mountain chain is permanently covered in smoke. The smoke comes from several active volcanoes within the mountains, and is kept from dispersing by magic (the magic plays virtually no other part in this scenario). The smoke varies in thickness, but is consistently thick enough to make traveling through it near-impossible, due to the lack of visibility. The magic plus the smoke combine to make a weak greenhouse effect, meaning the mountain chain as a whole is fairly warm (think 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit in spring/fall (a lot of heat comes from the volcanoes)).

It makes sense to me that such thick smoke would block a good portion of sunlight from reaching the ground, and any vegetation that might be there. This leads me to the question: what could grow/live there?

The Question: What kind of plants could thrive in such an environment, if any? What animals would be most at home in this environment?

  • $\begingroup$ Volcanic smoke may be more likely to cool the area then to warm it. volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php. (Not sure about the greenhouse effect of magic thought). $\endgroup$ – user2448131 Aug 5 '15 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm... though not by much, judging by the article. Only a few degrees at best. I suppose that's accounting for dispersion though, which wouldn't be happening much in my scenario. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Myron Aug 5 '15 at 18:39

What plants and animals could thrive in such an environment? Maybe extremophile bacteria, but nothing else that exists on Earth. Why? Volcanic smoke has a lot of hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen fluoride..

Hydrogen sulfide

is heavier than air, very poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and explosive.

Hydrogen chloride

forms white fumes of hydrochloric acid upon contact with atmospheric humidity.

Hydrogen fluoride

is a highly dangerous gas, forming corrosive and penetrating hydrofluoric acid upon contact with living tissue. The gas can also cause blindness by rapid destruction of the corneas.

As the smoke doesn't dissipate, there's going to be a lot of these gases. Whenever there is rain, it's going to be acid rain. The heavier-than-air gases are going to pool in any low areas, so the valleys between peaks are going to be extremely toxic.

However, you have magic in your world, so you can just lampshade this:

A: The herb only grows in the valley between the two fire mountains
B: Nothing should be able to live in such a place!
A: The magic of region sustains them.

Seeing as nothing can realistically live there, you may as well put whatever you want there and just say that they survive because of the magic.


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