Questions tagged [natural-disasters]

For questions about naturally occurring phenomena that cause damage and threat to a sentient being, e.g. tornadoes, earthquakes, meteors, etc.

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52
votes
32answers
20k views

How to completely destroy a city, without leaving clues for humanity 4,000 years later?

Background I want to burn down a city completely. Nothing must remain, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Even though I'm a supernatural being, I want this to happen in a natural way. I also want the ...
42
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7answers
4k views

What would World War I outcomes be if the Tunguska event had occurred over London in 1908?

I am exploring an alternative history of a timeline if the centre of the British Empire is wiped off the map in the early 20th century. The Tunguska event was believed to be an air burst comet or ...
33
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24answers
11k views

What would make the internet go away?

Assume that we're in roughly our currently timeline in present day, plus or minus 5 years (for increase or decrease in technology that would/could make a specific method plausible): what event or ...
31
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5answers
9k views

What would be the consequences for Earth if the moon disappeared?

Scenario: The Moon disappears slowly -- within 3 days. It is a result of natural causes and we don't have any control over this disaster. What will be the Major Effects On Earth and life on Earth?
23
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3answers
2k views

How big a black hole is needed for this story?

The story begins in classic disaster film style. A small rogue black hole is approaching our Solar System. It isn’t going to get close enough to destroy everything, but it will agitate our Sun, ...
20
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3answers
3k views

A few dozen Millennia after Yellowstone erupts, how close would a parking lot look to a natural Iron Vein?

I'm at the mall and Yellowstone erupts - My, and everyone else's car is covered with ash, fire, and maybe even lava. Lets say it was a big shopping day too, like Black Friday or Christmas Eve, just to ...
20
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6answers
21k views

What would Earth be like right now without the Black Death?

The black death wiped out anywhere between 20% and 50% of the human population, and so without it obviously the world population would be billions more than it is now. What I'm more interested in is ...
19
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4answers
710 views

Making doomsayers right - a moon(s), planet alignment that matters

Considering our topic challenge, and the fantastic eclipse last Sunday a question came to me. Could there be a stable (relatively speaking) planetary system where a(n) eclipse/alignment would ...
18
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2answers
521 views

What would be the immediate climatic effects of having a continent appear out of nowhere?

I am writing a story where a freak magical accident causes a fully-formed landmass to pop into existence like it was there all along. For the purposes of this question, let's assume: the continent ...
14
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24answers
6k views

How can water magic destroy the world?

The question is self-explanatory. In my novel, there is an evil sea goddess that wants to destroy the world. I want to emphasize that she wants to destroy the world completely, in a way no plant, ...
14
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13answers
4k views

What could explain why trees only have 12 rings?

A colony of space travelers makes their way to their new home planet. After landing and establishing their base camp, a wood worker begins to cut down trees and notices that none of the trees have ...
14
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2answers
904 views

How close must a supernova be to severely harm the Earth?

I did a little looking and it appears stars outside of 10 parsec/33 ly will have very little effect on the Earth. What it did say was that inside that range the gamma rays would affect our ozone ...
13
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6answers
2k views

Does the sun being blocked affect electricity?

I feel like this is the most noobish question ever. Anyway, imagine an asteroid hits Earth and the atmosphere is now full of particles, successfully blocking the Sun from Earth. There are people still ...
13
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5answers
929 views

An Inverse Great Dying

252 million years ago, the worst event in the history of life on Earth occurred. 70% of all terrestrial species and 96% of all marine species became extinct through, according to geological records, ...
13
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4answers
1k views

How many “years without a summer” can society survive?

In 1815 Mount Tambora erupted throwing so much dust into the atmosphere that the year became known as "the year without a summer". *There were a few other mitigating factors but Tambora is thought to ...
12
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8answers
2k views

Would an asteroid of similar size to the one that hit 65 million years ago cause humans to go extinct?

Could humans sustain life after a k-t like extinction event? I know that a long lasting winter was a side effect then, but humans have technology to protect against cold. What other effects of an ...
12
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3answers
3k views

What did the night sky look like 63 million years ago?

I'm working on a comic which is essentially alternate-history fiction, and a big upcoming part of it involves the formation of the Chicxulub crater 63 million years ago. As I am a stickler for ...
11
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4answers
3k views

What would be the effect(s) of this asteroid?

"At this very moment we face a threat insurmountable to Man. We are faced with two options. Stay on Earth and die, or leave Earth to space." - UN Preservation Council, CE 2047 Earth, year CE 2047 An ...
11
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4answers
259 views

A giant meteor, balancing destruction and life sustainability

So as a geographic feature and major historic event I have a meteor (and the resulting crater) idea in my head. The idea is that the meteor sort of resets civilization. Obviously I don't want it to ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Where would an asteroid have to hit earth to cause an impact winter?

I found this on Wikipedia. I'm aiming for the fastest climate change possible without that much advanced notice, e.g. perhaps a regional sized asteroid scientists miss or are too distracted to catch ...
11
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1answer
643 views

Political and social rammifcations of govenor killing most citizens to save the remaining few (second draft)

Follow up to this question: How would earth goverments respond to killing of most of a colony to keep the rest alive long enough for rescue but with a different approach. The same scenario occurs. ...
10
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10answers
3k views

How to transport 10,000 terrestrial trolls across ocean fast?

Trolls are about 30 meters tall on average and can weigh anything between 100 to 200 short tons at sea level. They can only be found to inhabit an island somewhere in the Pacific ocean and are in ...
10
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11answers
3k views

How to prepare for a huge asteroid strike?

The scenario is the following: a civilization with technology level similar to humanity's current, on a planet similar to Earth, shall be hit by a massive celestial body in approximately one year. ...
10
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4answers
749 views

Can I trigger supernova artificially?

As far as I know stars are going supernova as a natural process. Can aliens trigger it artificially? If this is possible then: How can I do this (what minimum technology and civilization development ...
10
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3answers
655 views

Geopolitical and Economic Implications of a Large Eruption at Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is the site of a large supervolcano that is somewhat due for an eruption in the geological near term. I have seen slides and discussions to the effect that large portions of ...
9
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8answers
1k views

To Conquer the Earth by Appearing Ship

An alien species has been conquering planet after planet around the Milky Way for some time. They detected intelligent life on Earth a while back and now they decided it’s time to add us to their ...
9
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5answers
2k views

How possible would it be for a whole city (and smaller towns) to be built on water?

The world is flooded and some people have survived and managed to build small towns and even massive cities on the ocean that now covers the world. Is this possible hypothetically? How much of the ...
9
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5answers
576 views

Could a nuclear explosion occur naturally on a planet with crazy enough (but still possible) conditions?

My question here is if there is any circumstance, however unlikely, that could lead to explosive nuclear fission that was not set off by intelligent creatures. I'm working on some bizarre planets for ...
9
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4answers
887 views

What if the asteroid never hit? [closed]

Science fiction and fantasy stories are full of alternate worlds populated by races of beings that look mostly human but kind of different. But is that at all realistic? When the dominant life forms ...
9
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4answers
548 views

What kind of natural disaster could create a permanent, global cloud cover?

“Permanent” here meaning “significant over geological timespans”, so it would have to last at least 10,000 years and produce a thick enough layer of clouds that it would cover the entire planet in an ...
9
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3answers
204 views

What part of the coast gets hit by the tsunami?

I've drawn up a set of landmasses for my story, and now there's a tsunami headed for them. I know where the tsunami is coming from, and I could decide how big it is, or any other characteristics of ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What would life be like on the remnants of a shattered planet?

The year is 2089. The political shenanigans of the day have gotten more out of hand than usual and violent zealots have detonated the Earth's largest deposit of plotium devicide, an extremely ...
8
votes
2answers
343 views

What would an asteroid impact feel like to someone standing on the moon?

On the Earth, with our atmosphere, even small objects entering the atmosphere such as Tunguska or Chelyabinsk can do devastating damage due to the shock-wave travelling through the air. People could ...
8
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3answers
307 views

'Magic Came Back' Catastrophes - Wood-based Disasters

Referring back to https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/2781/magic-came-back-catastrophes In the interest of narrowing questions down, I am splitting these out into particular elements ...
7
votes
5answers
344 views

How can I catch an asteroid?

I'm interested in asteroid mining, but don't have the infrastructure in place to process ores and the like in space. However, I've got a nice planet-based refinery setup where I could easily process ...
7
votes
4answers
388 views

Can reckless idiots wake up a dormant volcano using mining equipment?

My story for a video game has some kind of "enemy" (think "the Others" from Lost—little is known about them; they have control over a small settlement or two and appear to be engaging in some manner ...
7
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5answers
526 views

How to wipe out ALL life on Earth, but leave it habitable?

NB: This is not a duplicate of this question, because A) it only asks to wipe out humans, not any other life-form, and B) it insists that one person must survive. The survival of anything is not ...
7
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3answers
277 views

Is it possible for coronal mass ejections or perhaps a gamma ray burst to cause firestorms on an earth-like planet?

Ideally this would be some sort of sun or star-related natural disaster that would affect the entire planet and make life outside of protected/shielded areas extremely dangerous. This is a human-...
6
votes
10answers
2k views

How to build a tsunami proof island city?

Igbi Island, a remote island located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, is notorious for its extremely powerful megatsunamis, huge, deadly waves averaging 500 feet (≈ 150m), but sometimes ...
6
votes
11answers
531 views

What type of natural or artificial disaster could devastate a multi galactic civilization?

There is an advanced civilization that spans multiple galaxies. The civilization has learned to tap every available source of energy within the volume that it has colonized. The civilization ...
6
votes
2answers
138 views

Missouri Flood, 2011--FULL POWER

From June 2011 all the way to August, the American Midwest underwent a headline disaster--the overflow of Gavins Point Dam just outside Yankton, South Dakota, resulting in a region-wide flood. The ...
6
votes
3answers
130 views

What is the longest plausible interval for a recurring, society-shaping, natural distaster?

I'm writing a story in which the characters (and society at large) have to deal with a recurring natural disaster (like hurricane season or the common winter, in a way). What I want to know is how ...
6
votes
7answers
458 views

What factors could delay the rescue of a small group of survivors on a Pacific volcanic eruption?

The rag-tag group of natives and tourists somehow survived for a week on the manor by the cliff, while the volcano still spits lava and pyroclastic clouds all around. Just before the last cell tower ...
6
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3answers
186 views

Can Shade Balls be used to stop hurricanes?

I think it would make sense for hurricanes to be combatted using shade balls to block the evaporation of the ocean into the storm. What would we need to stop a hurricane? Info on shade balls.
6
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3answers
3k views

Is it possible to harness energy from natural disasters?

Since earthquakes, typhoons, tsunami and many natural disasters were measured or calculated to release more energy than many H-bombs can produce every seconds, can we one day harness this powerful ...
5
votes
6answers
339 views

Blowing fragments of the moon off, sending them to Earth as meteors - what is the impact? [closed]

Pun not (originally) intended. In my story, a fairly advanced, newly space-faring civilisation manages to land on the moon and establish a colony, where they do some industrial work e.g. mining. ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

What natural event could strip all of Earth atmosphere?

I was reading up on Mars thin atmosphere and was wondering how could Earth becomes like the red planet except it only has only 100 pascal (air pressure) at imaginary sea level? Mars is 600 pascal on ...
5
votes
5answers
356 views

Life on planet regularly hit with meteorites

Is it possible for life to evolve— and survive— on a planet that is regularly hit by [relatively small— usually no more than a few feet across when they make an impact] meteorites? If so, what effects ...
5
votes
8answers
349 views

What disaster could wipe out civilisation worldwide, but allow for immediate rebuilding? What would be the side effects?

For a story I have, modern civilisation must be destroyed by a worldwide disaster. The objective is roughly something that: Could be man-made or aided (if not now, maybe in the future) Decimates, ...
5
votes
2answers
788 views

What would the impact of dramatic drop in temperature due to an asteroid strike be?

Assume that an asteroid strikes earth somewhere in central Eurasia, kicking up enough dirt and ash into the atmosphere to darken the sun and cool the surface of the earth for a millennium. I know that ...