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When the earth is flung out of the solar system as per Josh Pirhi's question, not everyone embarks on a spaceship. Instead, as earth becomes a rogue planet, a group of survivors created a self sustaining colony around a cluster of geothermal vents.


My question is simple. Is it possible, with technology from modern day to thirty years from now, to create a self sustaining colony that uses geothermal vents for energy?

Note - I would like the colony to be able to support half a million people at most, and 10,000 at least.

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I don't think it is.

The forces required to pull the Earth out of its orbit would be tremendously powerful, and would cause cataclysms on the planet which would wipe out even the best prepared colonies.

Underground bunkers would probably be crushed as the Earth experiences massive earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. (this is actually a big problem of ours regarding the storage of nuclear waste: there are very few places - if any - where we might be certain that our dump sites will be able to sit undisturbed for 50K+ years)

Furthermore, consider that once floating in the depths of inter-solar system space the Earth will get incredibly cold very, very quickly. You can pretty much forget about doing anything on the planet's surface.

We will no longer get as much light as we did before, so that won't be a very good method to generate power. Geothermal power may sustain you for a while, but the depth at which you might be able to tap into that will probably change dramatically, so unless you are prepared to drill even further down you will be in trouble.

If your people somehow managed to survive the initial catastrophes, they would be stuck in a bunker which would become their tomb sooner rather than later.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think you could actually survive off of coal / oil / natural gas / nuclear / maybe fusion for quite a while. The point of death would be more along the lines of all plant life dying off than running out of power. $\endgroup$ – Lacklub Mar 24 '16 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Lacklub - I think it would depend on how violent the Earth leaving from orbit would be. If very violent then everyone would die in the earthquakes, etc. Depending on the event the planet might also lose its atmosphere so ... yea. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Mar 24 '16 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any source on how violent it would be? It seems to me that (partly because things in space have very long time scales) it could be fairly gentle. $\endgroup$ – Lacklub Mar 24 '16 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Lacklub - the OP would have to specify. To my mind, anything powerful enough to derail us out of orbit would be very violent indeed. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Mar 24 '16 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ The moon has about 2x the tidal effect as the sun, and we don't notice either of them on the geology of the earth significantly. Also, OP linked to a question about two black holes coming into the solar system. They could rip the sun out, or just get us to escape velocity as they pass through (if they do it slowly). $\endgroup$ – Lacklub Mar 24 '16 at 18:02

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