Would any volcano do?
#1
Did the One Ring need to be cast into Mount Doom or would any volcano do?  When I read the Shadow of the Past as a kid I thought that the ring could only be unmade by casting it into Mount Doom where it had been created.  But actually all Gandalf said is basically there is nowhere that there is a fire hot enough.  If there was another volcano presumably the ring could have been put in it.  Was there something intrinsic in Mount Doom itself that would be the only way that the enchantment on the ring could have been undone or was it just hot.  

It's not unreasonable to assume that Mount Doom is the only active volcano in the known regions of Middle Earth.  If I am not mistaken Mount Etna is the only active volcano on the Eurasian continent that represents the west of Middle Earth.  And on the North/South American continents there aren't any continuously active volcanoes.  There are active volcanoes like the ones in Hawaii but those are separated by thousands of miles of ocean.
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#2
I think the intent was that Orodruin / Mt. Doom, being linked to the One Ring in that it was the place of its forging, was indeed the only place it could be destroyed (unless hypothetically it could have been taken to Valinor and made Aulë's problem, which was ruled out). Furthermore, Mt. Doom's eruptions and active/quiet periods seemed to be under the control of Sauron after he set up housekeeping in Mordor, or at least it seemed to awaken when Sauron was around and active, but would go to sleep when he was absent or at a low personal ebb. The text implies that between the end of the War of the Last Alliance, and TA 2954, 10 years after Sauron withdrew from Dol Guldur and 4 years after he reentered Mordor and openly declared himself again, Mt. Doom was quiescent. Then, according to Appendix B, it "burst into flame again" as if restarted by Sauron. (But Sauron didn't actually make Mt. Doom; The only mention of Orodruin's origins, somewhere in HoME iirc, attributed it to Melkor's landforming activities such as the raising of the Misty Mountains, in very ancient times before the War of Wrath and the Great Journey of the Eldar). In any case, as you say, it was the only active volcano within reasonable reach.

Just in modern Italy, there are numerous volcanoes, at least 14 of which erupted within historic times and were recorded in some fashion. Salina and Etna are still erupting now; the notorious Vesuvius last erupted in 1944. Italy and Sicily are part of a subduction zone into which the Mediterranean, an ancient ocean bed remnant, is shrinking, therefore many subduction-zone type volcanoes characterized by long periods of inactivity and occasional eruptions, sometimes devastatingly violent, are located along the northern shore esp. Italy. A good many legends and phenomena recorded in sources including Greek myth and possibly the Biblical books of Genesis and Exodus have been at least hypothesized as related to one of the more violent Bronze-Age eruptions esp. the explosion of Thera/Santorini, though I don't think most of these attributions are generally scientifically accepted. For example, trying to connect the Biblical plagues of Egypt preceding the Exodus with the Thera explosion must explain among other things a likely time discrepancy of some four centuries of the most accepted probable dates of those events (not to mention there's about a century-&-half disagreement among datings of the "Minoan" Santorini eruption). Some scholars have pointed out similarities between accounts of the wars of the gods in Hesiod's Theogony and descriptions of that type of eruption by those who survived witnessing one.
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#3
The weird thing about this is that my family was discussing volcanoes at breakfast this very day.

My mother noticed a recipe for "Pork Vesuvius" on the morning news, and asked the breakfast room generally whether we fancied any.

Naturally, we asked whether she was going to swim all the way to Italy (from Chicago, mind you) to get us 'authentic' Mt. Vesuvius lava in which to roast the pork.  Because the lava from any OTHER volcano would be...well, words like 'inauthentic' and 'travesty' were bandied about.

From our discussion of "Pork Vesuvius", we determined that volcanoes are very "lava-specific".  And that is all that you need to know about destroying the One Ring.

But, it should be noted that, in the preparation of "Pork Vesuvius", one is well advised not to forget the apple sauce!
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#4
Second-guessing Tolkien is both fun and frustrating. I suspect that when he wrote that passage he wasn't thinking much about geology and how the Earth's core works. He just thought a volcano would be hotter than any smith's forge.

A question rarely if ever asked is whether Gandalf himself had the power to destroy the One Ring. He didn't have the authority but I've always believed he was a fire spirit in origin (his association with Lorien in The Silmarillion notwithstanding).

Could he not have destroyed the Ring? Could the Balrog have destroyed it?

The one advantage that a place like Orodruin has in a quest story is that it is a natural feature. Volcanoes are real things and people understand they are really hot. But because Sauron controlled the volcano directly, it could be that Tolkien was implying there was an affinity between him and Orodruin (and thus between the Ring and Orodruin). The affinity might have been the special ingredient needed for the plan to work.

It's all dependent upon the rules that work in the authior's mind.
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#5
(January 6th, 2020, 02:10 PM)Michael Wrote: Second-guessing Tolkien is both fun and frustrating. I suspect that when he wrote that passage he wasn't thinking much about geology and how the Earth's core works. He just thought a volcano would be hotter than any smith's forge.

A question rarely if ever asked is whether Gandalf himself had the power to destroy the One Ring. He didn't have the authority but I've always believed he was a fire spirit in origin (his association with Lorien in The Silmarillion notwithstanding).

Could he not have destroyed the Ring? Could the Balrog have destroyed it?

The one advantage that a place like Orodruin has in a quest story is that it is a natural feature. Volcanoes are real things and people understand they are really hot. But because Sauron controlled the volcano directly, it could be that Tolkien was implying there was an affinity between him and Orodruin (and thus between the Ring and Orodruin). The affinity might have been the special ingredient needed for the plan to work.

It's all dependent upon the rules that work in the authior's mind.

Bravo. Yes, I think all indications are that Sauron and Orodruin were supposed to have a special link vital to making the scheme work.

If any of the Ainur could, by his/her/its own inherent power if sufficient, destroy the Ring, then the Istari might fall short, the Dragons (which JRRT somewhere implied were lesser Ainur trapped in the reptilian bodies) were explicitly stated not to be hot enough, the Balrog mmmmmaybe (but why would it want to?), probably other top tier Maiar peers of Sauron like Ossë and Eönwë, and certainly the great Valar, including Melkor at least before he had his rumble with Ungoliant.
Many Defeats & Many Fruitless Victories Memoirs Gateway
For I was talking aloud to myself...the old...choose the wisest person present to speak to...
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