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I'm trying to dig down through an aquifer in deep winter and my dwarves keep getting frozen into the blocks of ice. I've tried designating the channeling in different manners, but I can't seem to keep them from digging out the area and then jumping in right before the water from the surrounding aquifer squares flash freezes.

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You hopefully have a burrow defined that encompasses your fortress interior, for sieges and whatnot? Try extending that burrow so it covers the current surface of the aquifer, but not the z-layer beneath, and set the civilian alert level to restrict to the burrow. With a little luck that will cause your dwarves to treat the freshly channeled-open hole as forbidden and avoid jumping down into it.

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You could try carrying out channeling in summer only; the water might freeze more slowly then.

  • This won't work, we're talking about an aquifer here, which means instant flooding and corresponding drowning. – alexanderpas Dec 9 '10 at 7:22
  • @alexanderpas Drowning's much more survivable than freezing is. Occasional, nonfatal submerging is normal when breaching an aquifer. With freezing, though, the dwarf's gone instantly. – Brilliand May 9 '14 at 23:13

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