Ponies and Plinians

by PonyAmorous

Chapter 1: Ponies and Plinians

Twilight Sparkle, the most magically talented unicorn seen in generations, personal protégé to the immortal sun princess Celestia, and all around smarty pants, placed another determined hoof in front of her. What had once been a relatively gentle slope, had now grown into a steep climb as she advanced up the side of the mountain. Some of the muscles in her back legs, unaccustomed to such use, registered their complaint, but Twilight quickly dismissed it. She was on a mission, and no force in Equestria could impede her. Not even the endless stream of questions from the bouncing pink pony beside her.

“So what are we doing again?”

“As I said the last dozen times you asked Pinkie Pie, we’re conducting a geologic survey of Mt. Sumpony. The Canterlot geologic society has been picking up some unusual seismic activity in the area, indicating that this volcano may be turning active again. I’m here to investigate further and attempt to predict the resulting eruption type and possible resulting hazards that may be posed.”

Pinkie batted her eyelashes and stared back vacantly. “Spike? Translation?” Twilight’s dragon assistant lazily lifted an eye from his napping position on the lavender unicorn’s back.

“ The mountain’s probably gonna blow, and we need to know how bad it’s gonna be.”

“Why would we need to know that? Couldn’t we just wait and see?”

Twilight shook her head. “No Pinkie. Volcanic eruptions can have very serious consequences for Equestria as a whole. Remember that sleeping dragon that was snoring out smoke that threatened to cover Ponyville?”

“The one that Fluttershy stared at so hard it started crying?”

“Yes. Well a volcano can put out tons of smoke at once, enough to blanket large sections of Equestria. It’s usually full of some pretty toxic gases too. Then the pegasi teams have to come in to clear it all away. But there’s plenty of other hazards too.”


“It all depends on what type of eruption happens, which depends on the consistency of the magma. If it’s really mafic and runny, the lava flows will run quickly down the mountain. Then we need the pegasi to bring in rain clouds to try and quench the flows before they start wild fires at the bottom. If there’s a lot of silica in the magma, it’ll be felsic and thick and-”

“Like syrup?”

“Yes, like syrup. Anyway, in that case it’ll probably be a big explosion that shoots a huge column of smoke into the air, along with flaming balls of pyroclastic debris. There’s also the risk of pyroclastic flows. Giant semi-fluid avalanches of hot, toxic gas and debris that crashes down the mountain at hurricane-force speeds.”

“That sounds…bad.”

“It is. And it calls for a much different response. Not only will a lot of ponies be needed to handle the smoke cloud, but you really don’t want to use rain clouds. It could mix with the debris flows to create giant, boiling mudflows. In fact, response protocol calls for atmospheric lensing teams to melt snow off the top of the mountain in advance so it won’t mix with the lava and debris.

“So is that why Rainbow Dash is here?” Pinkie extended a hoof up towards the cyan pegasus circling overhead, impatiently waiting for her tragically land bound companions to make their way up the mountain. Hearing her name, the rainbow maned pony swooped down to join the conversation.

“Yep. Twilight’s here to do all the egghead work, and I’m here representing the Ponyville emergency response pegasi. After Twilight does all the science, I give my report to the director of the Emergency Response Pegasi Initiative. Most people just call her DERPI.”

Pinkie’s face flashed with recognition. “You mean the mail mare?”

“Yeah, well it isn’t exactly the most well paid position. It’s really more of a volunteer thing. I hear she took it because the office is always stocked with free muffins.”

Turning back to Twilight, Pinkie continued her inquiry. “So why am I here?”

Apparently to force large amounts of exposition Twilight thought to herself. She briefly imagined what a cutie mark for exposition would look like, and pictured Pinkie with a large talking head on her flanks. “You wanted to tag along, remember? Come to think of it, I‘m surprised none of our other friends wanted to join us.”

Rainbow Dash snickered loudly. “I think that may have something to do with how you phrased it.”

Twilight thought back to earlier that morning when she had first received the letter from Celestia. She had then gone to each of her friends to ask if they wanted to come with her to Mt. Sumpony.


“Hi Rarity. I just received a new assignment from Celestia, and I’m going to Mt. Sumpony.”

“Oh how exciting! Good to see Celestia has you out and experiencing the world. Well I’ve got to get back to filling this large order, but do be sure to tell me all about it darling.”


“Hey Applejack. Rainbow Dash and I were just about to head off to Mt. Sumpony. You interested?”

“Nope. Can’t say I am. You two have fun though. I’ll just be here harvesting apples.

“Do you want us to take any pictures?”

“No. Please don’t.”


“Fluttershy! Do you want to come with me and Rainbow Dash to Mt. Sumpony?”

Fluttershy turned red and fainted.


Hi Pinkie, Rainbow Dash and I are heading off to Mt. Sumpony. You want to join us?”

“DO I?!"


Twilight didn’t have any clue what Rainbow Dash was talking about. Meanwhile, Pinkie had resumed her inquisition.

“So what does this have to do with violins?”

“What?” Twilight paused in confusion. She swore, Pinkie Pie could be so random sometimes.

“Earlier you said something about assaulting tough rocks, indecision, and a Stradivarius. I thought maybe we were going to a concert.”

Twilight raised a hoof to her face in exasperation. “Stratovolcano. I said it was a stratovolcano. The combination of features such as basaltic flows and all this andasitic tuff we’re wading through means it’s a stratovolcano. A composite. It‘s had both mafic and felsic eruptions in the past.”

“Sooo….what does that mean then?” Rainbow Dash cut in.

“It means it could go either way and we need more data if we’re going to determine what it’s going to do next. Meaning we have to keep climbing.”

The rest of the climb passed in relative quite. Well, as quiet as things ever got with Pinkie Pie around, which meant frequent humming, singing, and occasional commentary on various funny looking rocks. The air grew progressively colder as they climbed higher and higher, though Twilight seemed to be the only one to notice. Pinkie bounced around enough to keep warm, no matter what the conditions, and being a pegasus who worked on the weather team, Rainbow Dash was naturally resistant to high altitude climates.

Soon the air began to warm again as they approached the summit. That in itself was troubling. It meant the magma was fairly close to surface already. Finally they reached a large plateau. In the distance could be seen the faint outline of the coast. Deep below the water, tectonic plates were slowly colliding. One being squeezed underneath the other, forcing up all the pressurized magma responsible for volcanic activity in this region. The summit crater was visible just a short ways ahead, and by now the heat was enough to cause the three ponies to sweat profusely.

“Spike, you’re up. SPIKE!” Twilight shook a back leg, dislodging her sleeping assistant from her back. “Get in there and get us some magma samples.”

With no small amount of grumbling, the diminutive dragon picked up the tungsten sample case, tied the length of cord around his waist, and jogged over to the mouth of the crater. Carefully, he began to descend. It wasn’t the heat he was worried about. As a dragon, he could easily swim in lava all day, as easily as if it were water. The climb up and down however, could be treacherous, hence the cord. One belly flop into lava had been enough for him.

Reaching the molten surface, he reached out a clawed hand to scoop some of the brightly glowing substance into the container. After letting it cool, Twilight would study the crystals to determine the composition and silica content. That would hardly be necessary, he realized, as he ran a hand through the thick mess. After collecting the samples, he gave three short tugs on the line, signaling the others to pull him up.

Rejoining the others, he handed off the sample box to Twilight, who took it in the soft glow of her magic as she levitated it to her side. “I can tell you right now, that stuff is thick as molass-” Spike was interrupted as a large tremor shook the mountain side. He took a quick glance back over the mouth of the crater.

“Uh, guys? I don’t mean to alarm you , but something is definitely happening down there.

“What is it?” Twilight asked, failing to keep the nervousness out of her voice.

“Well…it looks kinda like…a big bubble? It‘s just kinda bulging and growing. Pretty quickly too.”

“This is bad! This is very very bad! This whole place is gonna blow any second now! Dash! You head to Ponyville as fast as you can and get help. ”

“What?! There’s no way I’m leaving you guys here!”

“ Don’t worry about us, I’ll take care of it. Somepony needs to alert the response teams as soon as possible.”

“What do I tell them?”

“Tell them it’s a level five felsic and to bring as many ponies as they possibly can. NOW!”

“On it!” A rainbow streak zoomed off into the distance, accompanied by a multicolored flash and a sonic boom.

Twilight gulped as she turned back to the shaking mountain. She wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by ‘take care of it’ but staying here was suicide. Her shield spells were pretty impressive, but she wasn’t in any hurry to test them, and as the old saying went, the best shielding is distance. Gathering Pinkie and Spike beside her, she let out a bright flash from her horn as she teleported them away.

With the growing instability of the mountain side, it wasn’t safe to attempt much more than a line of sight jump. She would have to descend the mountain in a series of rapid jumps before she could get them to safety. As she gathered magic for another teleport, something caught her eye. A thin stream of gas was pushing its way out of a bulging section of rock, whistling loudly as it pushed up through tiny crevices. An idea came to her.

“Spike! Do you still have those excavation charges?”

“Yeah?” Spike produced the bag of insulated magical explosives.

“Come with me. Pinkie, you keep running. We’re pretty close to the bottom. Once you reach it, just keep running. We’ll meet up with you and Rainbow Dash later.

“Okie Doki Loki!” Pinkie took off with a burst of speed.

“Spike. I need you to place one of those charges right over there.” Following her hoof, Spike rushed over and laid a charge right on top of the whistling rock.

Good, now come with me. She quickly teleported them to several more locations, having spike plant charges on each whistling patch they found. Finally deciding that she was cutting it close enough, she teleported them to the base of the mountain, and then as far away as she could while still being within triggering range of the explosives.

With another glow of her horn, The side of the mountain lit up with a chain of explosions. The already stressed rock was blown away, venting the high pressure gas out through the newly created fumaroles. With one more teleport away to a safer distance, Twilight collapsed with an exhausted gasp to catch her breath.

A few minutes later, the eruption finally hit, though far less dramatically than previously expected. It wasn’t long before a wave of pegasi descended on the scene to gather up the clouds of gas and take them away for processing. Pinkie Pie soon met up with her, and Rainbow Dash broke off from the main group of pegasi to fly down and join them, eager to learn what had happened to her friends.

“So what happened? Before, it sounded like this whole place was gonna get destroyed.”

“Well,” Twilight took a deep breath, “there was this huge buildup of gas trying to get out, so I vented it by triggering a flank eruption.”

Two ponies and a baby dragon collapsed on the ground in fits of laughter.

“What? What did I-? OH GROW UP!”


“How Volcanoes Work”: San Diego State University Department of Geological Sciences, 02/10/2013, http://www.geology.sdsu.edu/how_volcanoes_work/

“Global Volcanism Program”: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 02/10/2013, http://www.volcano.si.edu/education/tpgallery.cfm?category=Stratovolcanoes

“Introduction to Environmental Geology” by Edward Keller.

Author's Notes:

So as I said, this was for a school assignment. I wrote it in one go, sleep deprived in the wee hours of the am, the night before it was due. Keep in mind that my professor knows absolutely nothing about ponies, thus the time spent explaining who the hell these characters are.

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