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Submareef

A real island of life in the open ocean.
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The vast majority of the open ocean is relatively barren. There are a few good reasons for humans to want to change this; solar powered sequestration of CO2, food production, the ability to provide new stable habitat for ocean organisms. All ideas involving adding nutrients from external sources fail because the ecosystem is entirely dependent on the external source of nutriment. I propose an effective, if somewhat complicated alternative. Submerged floating landmass. A massive buoyant structure submerged to the depth of a reef, in the light zone but deep enough for substantial upward growth. This structure would allow the formation of reef organisms which would filter out and retain much of the material that fell down from the ecosystem above, thus conserving the minerals. Since the majority of the elements needed to sustain life are available in ocean water, a submerged island would also serve to aggregate the more unavailable nutrients allowing for a life supporting surplus in the surrounding region. To adapt to the fact that the weight of the Submareef will increase as it establishes, I recommend that it be made in a mesh pattern that will gradually fill in and become solid. This mesh should have a bell shape that will eventually allow the underside surface to retain a substantial pocket of air which would need to be added by human means.

To maximize the viability of the concept I would recommend considering something in the scale of a quarter mile round. Once the reef reached a critical size it could be allowed to sink or towed into an area of shallow water. Reefs of this size could also be sunk atop one another to form atolls in areas of relatively shallow depth.

WcW, Mar 23 2012

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       I'm not a marine biologist, but a couple of potential problems occur to me. 'Barren open ocean' pretty much means deep water far from shore; this is where you'll find the stiffest currents, and the water temperature will differ greatly from that close to shore. The water may also be less oxygenated and/or have a different pH balance out there. Coupled with this is the fact that living reefs are not self-contained ecosystems; they still rely on the constant replenishment of all the nutrients and minerals present in littoral waters. Only on the smallest scales, such as those microcosm paperweights, are reefs self-supporting, and even those things die after a few years. If this idea could be made to work, you'd still have to feed it regularly.   

       As for your concluding mention if installing this in shallow waters, artificial reefs are well-baked.
Alterother, Mar 23 2012
  

       // 'Barren open ocean' pretty much means deep water far from shore; //   

       .. that has just been visited by a fleet of Japanese trawlers.
8th of 7, Mar 23 2012
  

       Maybe the floating reefs should be made from decommissioned US attack subs. That should scare the trawlers off.
Alterother, Mar 23 2012
  

       Why decommission them ? "Daigo Fukuryū Maru" ...
8th of 7, Mar 23 2012
  

       Yes, you spotted my reference. Very good. Would you like a biscuit?   

       // Why decommission them ? //   

       Because the not-yet-decommissioned ones tend to scarper off before the reef inhabitants set up camp.
Alterother, Mar 23 2012
  

       // Would you like a biscuit? //   

       Yes, please. Do you have any cinnamon cookies ?
8th of 7, Mar 23 2012
  

       [Alterpther] Coral reefs are low (free) nutrient systems, with relatively low inputs. Like rain-forests and Mad Max's convoy, they thrive in the midsts of scarcity by distributing the precious juice among the individuals.   

       In fact, it's Widely Known that increased nutrient runoff from the land damages coral reefs, by giving algae an advantage over corals.
spidermother, Mar 23 2012
  

       I stand educated, and thank you, but I still need convincing that a reef could form outside of litorral regions, with no seafloor and a constant, stiff current.
Alterother, Mar 23 2012
  

       Again, I think the OP is not too far adrift. See coral atolls for an example of mid-ocean, 'just add substrate' reef formation. Of course, you need to be in the right climate zone - but that's a pretty vast area.
spidermother, Mar 24 2012
  

       Okay. As I said, I don't know about these things. This is just blind speculation on my part.
Alterother, Mar 24 2012
  

       I suggest you invest in the traditional, aluminium 'venetian' type. Vertical, Roman, bamboo etc. all tend to be faddish.
spidermother, Mar 24 2012
  

       You are a knowledgable individual and I trust your advice.
Alterother, Mar 24 2012
  

       As it happens, just 2 days ago I had a long chat about style, colour, and fashion trends with the lady in the local blind shop, so I feel reasonably up to date. I desperately wanted to say "I like women ... _and_ blinds", but managed to bite my tongue.
spidermother, Mar 24 2012
  

       If she was employed in a blind shop, how could she see colors?   

       If there's a current, how about you put a long pipe sloping down to the sea-bottom, and use it as an anchor chain, and as a way to suck seawater off the bottom up to the submareef. If you stuck some venturis in the right places, the flow should be powered by the current.   

       That way the nutrient-rich cold water could flow over at least the back half of the submareef.
baconbrain, Mar 24 2012
  

       I'm all for reef creation, since one of my favorites started out as a pile of rocks on a barge. Oh, and paragraph breaks, also.
normzone, Mar 24 2012
  

       If only this could be done to bind up the Gyres...   

       The simplest solution to the Gyre problem is to stop making them. Stop releasing slow degrading polymers into the ecosystem and wait 50 years.
WcW, Mar 24 2012
  

       The first step is always the hardest...
Alterother, Mar 24 2012
  

       I thought of something similar to this with [baconbrain]'s anno while reading one of the fertilise the ocean ideas. I was going to call it Reefba, as it would have a wave/wind/solar component to suck up some goodies from the sea floor.
marklar, Mar 25 2012
  
      
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