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In the Inferno episode of Stargate Atlantis, Sheppard's team meets a civilization about to be destroyed by a super-volcano, and is trapped there when the Stargate is destroyed during the evacuation.

From GateWorld:

McKAY: Look, you're still not getting it. Listen to me, all of you. When this thing erupts, the force of the explosion will be over ten thousand times greater than the blast that destroyed Mount St. Helens. It will obliterate half of this continent.

WEIR: There must be other continents.

McKAY: The dust cloud will envelop the planet within weeks, blocking out enough sunlight to kill every living thing. We are talking about an Extinction Level Event. (To Lycus) Look, the only option you've got is to evacuate your people to another planet -- and I would advise doing it sooner rather than later.

...

BECKETT: How long before the Daedalus is able to return?

TEYLA: Twelve hours to travel to Atlantis and back.

BECKETT: Twelve hours? And they hope there's enough time to make four trips?

Why not just temporarily teleport first batch en masse to Daedalus then proceed on impulse to other side of the planet teleport first batch down to some mountain on the other side of the planet, impulse back and repeat?

After everyone is on the other side of the planet. Transport first group to Daedalus hyperdrive to Atlantis, then after twelve hours deadalus is back and repeat for the remaining groups for the next two days. Plenty of time to evacuate everyone before the dust cloud covers the entire planet.

See also this BBC article.

Edit additional

What gives the remaining civilians better odds:

  • moving them on the other side of the planet now
  • or having them remain at ground zero?

With regards to toxic gases: which location has less toxic gas density (within the two day evac timeframe)

  • ground zero or
  • the other side of the planet?

Take note by the time Daedalus returned for the second batch. The civilians with Teyla and Ronon were already breathing toxic gas at ground zero - while the other side of the planet would still be clear.

With regards to particulates and teleportation and the remaining batches of people, which location would have less particulate density (within the two day evac timeframe)

  • ground zero or
  • the other side of the planet?

After the first twelve hours (with respect to particulate density), which would be more successful

  • teleporting the second batch from ground zero or
  • teleporting the second batch from the other side of the planet?

After the first 24 hours (with respect to particulate density), which would be more successful

  • teleporting the third batch from ground zero or
  • teleporting the third batch from the other side of the planet?

After the first 36 hours (with respect to particulate density), which would be more successful

  • teleporting the fourth batch from ground zero or
  • teleporting the fourth batch from the other side of the planet?

If Sheppard succeeds with the Orion - Daedalus can still beam civilians on the other side of the planet into Orion and continue with the evac from there. If Sheppard fails (not likely of course) Daedalus still has the option to save as many as it can.

In essence what Sheppard did with the Orion (move the civilians to safer location in orbit) is the same (in essence) as moving the civilians to a safer location at the other side of the planet.

Which would you prefer, a plan that gives more options or less?

batch teleport in action

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    Excellent question. The real answer is plot hole, but one could argue the orbiting the planet would take too long to keep everyone alive. – James Sheridan Nov 25 '14 at 5:50
  • @James Sheridan apologies James I should have been more specific. I added proceed on impulse to the other side of the planet. – tls Nov 25 '14 at 7:18
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    That would not have done much good, a super-volcano would have negatively impacted the world's weather for years to come. – Hikaru Ichijyo Nov 25 '14 at 7:36
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    @HikaruIchijyo: The Daedalus was coming to pick up the locals. It was just a matter of keeping them out of the destruction zone long enough for the Daedalus to pick them up. – James Sheridan Nov 25 '14 at 7:59
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    @HikaruIchijyo: Not over 12 hours. – James Sheridan Nov 25 '14 at 8:18
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You (and McKay) may be under-estimating the violence of the explosion that's about to take place. The mooted "Yellowstone Supervolcano" in your link is estimated to be some 1000-2000 times the explosive force of Mount St Helens. The blast that's about to happen on Taranis is going to be over ten times larger and that's just a rough guesstimate.

McKAY: Look, you're still not getting it. Listen to me, all of you. When this thing erupts, the force of the explosion will be over ten thousand times greater than the blast that destroyed Mount St Helens. It will obliterate half of this continent.

It's likely that in the time it takes to airlift the population to the other side of the planet (plus the 4 x 12-hour round trips that then need to take place afterwards) that there's a pretty good chance that a death-shroud of gas and dust will have engulfed the entire planet, rendering the rescue of later groups next to impossible due to the interference of the dust on the targeting scanners.

That's of course assuming that the explosion-effects (earthquakes, poisonous gas, tsunami, etc) aren't large enough to result in the immediate deaths of everyone on the planet whichever side they're hiding on.

  • Seems like they could have been "airlifted" very quickly (minutes, if the speed at which batch teleports have been seen to work before is any indication), and thus it would be worth trying. I'm not convinced by this. – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 25 '14 at 13:44
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit - Because bad writing. – Valorum Nov 25 '14 at 13:52
  • Naturally ;) That's out-of-universe, though. – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 25 '14 at 13:55
  • if a volcano is massive enough to destroy most of the continent, the gas / dust cloud is going to envelope the planet it a matter of minutes. were not dealing with hours or days. an event similar to this is typically what is attributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs. where not talking about a ooo look the sun is obscured, where talking a cloud of debris moving extremely fast and when it hits you, you die, unless your in a bunker but then your buried – Himarm Nov 25 '14 at 14:17
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    @Himarm. I might be wrong. Gas/dust to cover an entire planet in minutes? what kind of initial velocity (for gas/dust) are we talking about. Dont you need the planets own wind patters to spread dust. www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/possible_causes.html Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 provided a good example of how a large low-latitude eruption can quickly influence global climate. Fig. 10 shows how in nine days the sulfur dioxide plume had spread into both hemispheres and around half the planet. also gateworld.net/atlantis/s2/219.shtml for a picture of the volcano and the planet – tls Nov 25 '14 at 16:57
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Richard hit most of it except:

McKAY: Look, you're still not getting it. Listen to me, all of you. When this thing erupts, the force of the explosion will be over ten thousand times greater than the blast that destroyed Mount St. Helens. It will obliterate half of this continent.

Judging by the size of most of the planets that support life in Stargate. They are roughly 1 to the 10th magnitude of the size of earth, either larger or smaller, the force of the volcanic explosion would actually destroy half to 3/4 of the planet. Due to the force the people on the planet would not survive either scenario.

Another thing to keep in mind. It is very difficult to find uninhabited worlds that

  1. Are not swarming with wraith/some dangerous creature. (some planets are uninhabited by humanoids for a reason)

  2. Have a livable atmosphere/climate.

While yes the writers should have considered this, it was a better plan in general to save the planet rather than the people.

  • To all - guys i'm just going to add my comment as an edit to my original post. – tls Nov 26 '14 at 4:16
  • The Pegasus Galaxy isn't very big and even without a ZPM the BC304s are very fast. What, something like 18 days to cross 3Mly? That's 160,000 ly/day. Pegasus is only ~26,000ly wide...yup. Atlantis writers are very bad at math. Suffice it to say every single planet in Pegasus is within a 6 hr round trip of Tyranus. – John LA Aug 14 at 9:17
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We see the Asgard transporter used to zip people from the SGC to DC and even to pull Jackson out of Russia back to the SGC. There's really no need for Daedalus to fly from one side of the planet and back when it could just take a position above one of the poles and simply beam directly to the farthest point on that planet.

As for the idea that dust can instantly travel intercontinentally, just no. Even if it could dust won't kill you in 2 days unless you lack masks of any kind, it just blocks sunlight and kills the vegatation making long term survival impossible. Toxic gas could do you in more quickly but again, that won't spread to the far side of a planet overnight unless whatever cataclysm releasing it is big enough to melt the entire planets surface. Is the Moon falling? No, so they'd have a few days.

I also find it hard to believe that there wasn't another habitable planet with or without a Stargate less than 12 hours away by intergalactic hyperspeed. I like SGA but it really did have the worst writing and least character development of the three shows. Worst case they could've done the evacuation "right" and still had plenty of jeopardy from toxic gas fissures opening everywhere and from the risk to the techs trapped inside the Orion.

The idea such fissures would reach so far so fast is a stretch but at least they wouldn't have resorted to making all of the characters idiots to make a Super Volcano eruption dramatic...

P.S. regarding the dust:

It doesn't matter much if you make that supervolcano ten times bigger, it still can't throw dust much farther or any faster. You see the same thing in cannons; there's a fundamental limit to how much velocity a given explosive can generate based not on how much of it you use but on how quickly it can turn into a gas and how fast that gas can expand. If you look at Civil War cannon they didn't make them longer because there was no point, they tried. The explosive's composition limited velocity which limited range. Sure you could throw a bigger projectile but not any faster or farther than any other black powder gun could.

This relates to this discussion because there's a similar fundamental limit to how fast the volcanic gases can expand, limiting the velocity of materials erupted and therefore range it can throw it. This means the spread of toxic gas from a "teeny tiny" volcano like Mt Pinatubo is exactly the same as for Yellowstone. Just like a bigger black powder cannon can chuck a bigger cannon ball but it won't actually travel any faster or farther...

In contrast the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs hit the ground at 40,000 mph meaning a lot of material it blasted out was still going 10,000-20,000 miles per hour and so flew all over the world on ballistic trajectories for half and hour before falling in chunks as big as cars, houses and office buildings. But that's not what we are talking about here. Not at all.

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