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I just finished watching Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, and one question has been bugging me the entire 314 episodes (plus two movies):

If you really didn't want someone traveling through your stargate, why not just blow it up? Even with the phenomenal cosmic power of Ancient technology. What's all this business about burying the stargate?

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    Once humans blew up their gate, the gate would be gone, in the earlier seasons, that had no other interstellar space travel capabilities, but the Goa'uld and others did. If you could possibly avoid it, why would you destroy the one artifact, that might permit you to learn about and eventually protect yourself against the Goa'uld. – Zoredache Jul 30 '13 at 20:49
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A stargate is very, very durable. They have to be. They are containing the incalculable energies of an Einstein-Rosen bridge capable of distorting time and space between two distant locations. No ordinary material could withstand both the energy contained nor the stress of the space-time distortion needed to make the connections between two gates.

  • Stargates appear to have some resistance to the effects of time or entropy as the oldest gate in the Milky Way galaxy is reputed to be 50 million years old!

  • It has been shown several times that attempting to destroy a stargate is no easy task. Normal human nuclear weapons have no effect on the material comprising the gate itself.

  • Even enhanced weaponry may destroy the planet before affecting the stargate.

  • The stargate is so durable and contains so much energy within it, that when active, overloading the gate can actually render planets uninhabitable with the force of its destruction.

  • A buried Stargate has the exact same effect as a destroyed one, it cannot be used effectively closing off access to that planet.

But once the Iris system was created, a gate could be obstructed without having to bury it. A wormhole is prevented from forming if a significant obstruction is present inside the Stargate's ring.

  • Consequently, a simple way to seal a Stargate is to bury it, as was done to Earth's Giza Stargate.

  • Another way of controlling travel through a Stargate is by placing a barrier just above the event horizon, which will prevent incoming matter from being reintegrated (essentially annihilating it). The Iris at the SGC and the Gate shield at Atlantis function in this way.

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The Stargate Wiki entry confirms this:

  • Stargates are very durable; the oldest in the Milky Way is probably the Antarctic Gate, 50 million years old yet still perfectly functioning; the power source may have been younger.

  • The Stargates themselves are extremely resistant to damage or destruction: in one case, a Stargate survived a direct hit from a meteor,

  • while another was still capable of creating a stable wormhole while on a planet near a newly formed black hole.

  • A Stargate has also been seen to continue functioning while entering a star, though it was protected by a portable forcefield for a portion of its journey.

  • In the SG-1 fourth season episode "Chain Reaction", the SGC sent a naquadah-enhanced nuclear bomb to a planet whose surface had trace amounts of naquadah in its topsoil; the explosion destroyed the entire planet, yet the gate still remained open and intact.

  • In the ninth season of Stargate SG-1 the United States develops a naquadah-enhanced "Gatebuster" nuclear bomb that is theoretically capable of destroying a Stargate (the "Mark IX"). However, when it was first used it failed to destroy the intended Stargate, as an Ori shield defending the gate was being powered by the weapon attacks attempting to destroy it.

  • However, a later attempt (in the episode "The Shroud") successfully destroyed an active Stargate in the Pegasus Galaxy (which is connected to the Ori Supergate) by placing a Mark IX warhead behind the gate, thus preventing the energy from being absorbed by the open wormhole.

It should be noted that one of the stargate's more useful features is also its biggest weakness. The ability of a stargate to absorb energy from almost any source has been used several times as a means to destroy an active stargate.

  • If enough energy builds up in the gates superconductor, it can cause the naquadah to go critical effectively turning an active gate into a naquadah bomb as seen in the season 6 premiere "Redemption" where Anubis fired a weapon through an active wormhole triggering the detonation of Earth's stargate, which would have rendered the planet uninhabitable had the stargate not been successfully removed to outer space.

  • Additionally several gates were accidentally destroyed in the Stargate Atlantis episode "First Contact" As an unintended side effect of the Attero Device build by the Ancient scientist Janus. While these stargates did not build up enough energy to threaten entire planets, the explosions caused severe local damage.

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    Expressing how difficult (and dangerous) it is to destroy a stargate is a large part of the answer, but it might be worthwhile to note that not only is burying at least as effective as the Iris it substantially more practical at lower technologies. It might also be helpful to state that stargates are very useful and in very limited supply--and so extremely valuable. Even if they were easy to destroy, there would be strong reasons not to do so. – Paul A. Clayton Jul 30 '13 at 23:20
  • And you did so quite nicely, thank you, Paul. It is an excellent point giving yet another reason NOT to destroy what could be literally a king's ransom. The power to travel between worlds, instantaneously has a value cannot be overstated. However, I try not to answer beyond the scope any more. I catch a lot of flack for it. – Thaddeus Howze Jul 30 '13 at 23:29
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    @PaulA.Clayton A note brought up near the end of Thaddeus's answer: The iris is less effective than burying it, because the weapon Anubis used requires the wormhole to be active. Burying it prevents the wormhole from connecting in the first place. (The iris can be modified to prevent this, as in one episode, but it takes some manual labor while the wormhole is disengaged) – Izkata Jul 30 '13 at 23:39
  • The scope was "why not just blow it up?" (which includes both aspects I think) as well as "What's all this business about burying the stargate?" (which as Izkata points out is even more effective than the iris). (I can somewhat understand your position even though I think "why" includes other aspects, though it means my comment would have more persistent value than a comment generally should.) – Paul A. Clayton Jul 30 '13 at 23:59
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    There's also the time a gate fell into the molten lava of a supervolcano, and seemed to survive at least until being buried. – deworde Jul 31 '13 at 8:04
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In addition to the great answers pointing out how difficult it would be to destroy the Stargate, it's worth mentionong that Col O'Neil pointed out in the first or second episode that it wouldn't help: the Goa'uld have ships, and can quite easily invade Earth that way if they want.

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There are a few instances in which a Stargate is blown up in future episodes. It turns out that it is really difficult to do, they had to have a special extremely high strength nuclear bomb to do the trick. It is shown that erupting volcanoes and smaller bombs just don't do the trick.

In addition, there was one gate that exploded, in the episode Redemption. It's hard to say exactly how large of an explosion it was, but it was big enough that they took the gate outside of Cheyenne Mountain to prevent it from causing significant destruction.

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Blowing up the Stargate would be very very devastating as the Stargate is made up of very volatile metals

  • *Blowing up..? – Noob Saibot Jul 30 '13 at 18:56
  • @NoobSaibot yea... That. – The Doctor Jul 30 '13 at 18:56
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    +1 Burying it is easier and can be reversed later. – user1027 Jul 30 '13 at 19:48
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    How devastating? I can't imagine "volatile metals" would create more devastation than a small nuclear bomb, which is certainly worthwhile if you're trying to save an entire planet. Also, couldn't you just dismantle the Stargate instead? Removing a few crucial components should disable it without causing any explosions. – Lèse majesté Jul 30 '13 at 22:08
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    I can only assume by volatile you mean the naquadah the Stargates are made of. Naquadah amplifies energy, but it doesn't seem to be volatile itself, or the Stargates would've evaporated long ago. – kojiro Jul 31 '13 at 2:54
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Remember that for a time, the "super-weapon" of the show was...a crate of Naquadah with a nuke inside it. Naquadah is incredibly dangerous and can explode with enough force to shatter a planet.

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Strategically, blowing up or damaging beyond operation of a stargate is not an effective way of preventing travel to a world. As Daniel says, "They have ships", and all it would do it prevent access for you to offworld resources. It may slow them, but it won't stop them. Burying a Stargate allows you to prevent its activation is a good strategy if you can do it while it is inactive. You don't even have to bury it, just get enough solid mass inside the event horizon that prevents the vortex from forming. However, you can only do this while the gate is inactive so while connected to a gate within the time distortion field of a black hole or under constant activation by the Anubis's Stargate Destroyer in "Redemption" you are out of luck.

Blowing up a Stargate is difficult, needing to be within close proximity to a nuclear explosion in the gigaton range or something similar. While active with an outbound connection much of that energy will be absorbed by the gate and channeled into the wormhole causing it to jump destinations.

However blowing up a gate with an inbound wormhole is especially difficult. Not only would you get the force of the explosion you caused plus the explosive nature of naquadah going critical, but also of the energy being poured through the wormhole from the source. In the case of Anubis's attack on Earth that was enough energy to destroy the gate on it's own, so add a gigaton nuclear blast plus the force of the naquadah going and you have quite the firework.

As to the examples of the gate surviving extraordinary situations well...

  • Buried in Antarctica is not all that extreme compared to gigaton force
  • A meteor strike is not where near the magnitude of a gigaton force
  • It was not so much connecting to a gate in a black hole so much as dialing a gate as it was approaching the event horizon and the time dilation effects translated through the wormhole made it seem like it was still there. If they had dialed later it would have been unreachable as relative to the outside universe it would have been destroyed.
  • Forcefield, something else was maintaining the gate's integrity.
  • Was probably thrown free of the planet with the rest of the planetary debris within the 1st minute of naquadria fueled nuclear fire, hence why the connection maintained beyond the 38 minute mark.
  • Again shield, nuff said.

The "First Contact" example would be a good yardstick to what a gate explosion would look like without a nuclear trigger or purposefully weaponizing it like Anubis did.

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