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Extend the North Atlantic Archipelago

Not the same idea as "Man-made Atlantic Archipelago"
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(+2, -1)
  [vote for,

This is not the same idea as "Man-made Atlantic Archipelago", which is to do with building artificial islands further south in the Atlantic to prevent hurricanes.

Ireland is three thousand kilometres from Newfoundland. This makes it very difficult to get from Europe to North America without air travel. There is of course a North Atlantic Archipelago already, consisting of Great Britain, Ireland and a host of other nearby islands, and there's also Macaronesia further south, but they aren't enough.

There is currently controversy over the use of aircraft on long-haul flights. Across much of the world, this can be avoided in theory either by island hopping or other surface travel, but the only marginally sensible ways this can be done between Europe and North America are via the Bering Straits, which is a heck of a long way round, and through Great Britain, Iceland and Greenland, which is a climatic nightmare.

Therefore, i suggest that island hopping across the Atlantic Ocean be made easier by building a chain of artificial islands, possibly floating ones, within easy reach of each other. It would be necessary to avoid the Mid-Atlantic Ridge due to earthquakes, but besides that, it could be done. Then, instead of having to fly across the Atlantic, it would be feasible to cross it by a number of ferries, light aircraft or maybe even by swimming or bathtub. If civilisation should collapse in the meantime, assuming the islands are attached to the ocean floor, communication between Europe and North America would still be feasible, aiding in the rebuilding of a technological culture through the interchange of ideas.

There would also be a number of other advantages:

Extra land would be available for agriculture and industry.

Mineral resources in the Atlantic would be more accessible and therefore potentially cheaper.

Nature reserves could be established for vulnerable species, with reconstructed ecosystems from other islands where wildlife has been endangered by human activity.

A series of state-like entities, each with their own political systems, could be established relatively free from the interference from other parts of the world. This would increase the choices available elsewhere in the world due to the opportunity to emigrate to a regime of one's choice, and render other countries more democratic.

Electricity could be generated by wind, solar and tidal power and exported.

Economic support would also be available from issuing stamps and coinage, which would automatically be rare due to the small size of the islands.

Potentially hazardous research could be conducted on otherwise deserted islands.

This next one might not be a good thing: it could disrupt the Gulf Stream, counteracting global warming.

I suggest that the islands be built from waste materials from mining, building and silt resulting from soil erosion.

nineteenthly, Apr 05 2008

(?) A different idea Man-made_20Atlantic_20Archipelago
Not the same at all [nineteenthly, Apr 05 2008]

Bathymetric Map of the World http://www.ngdc.noa...age/2minrelief.html
In my post, I talk about the possibility of anchoring artificial islands to steel pilings sunk into the ocean bottom along the northern arc of the North Atlantic [qt75rx1, Apr 05 2008]

Bering Strait Bridge http://en.wikipedia...ering_Strait_bridge
A bridge to span the Bering Strait, and unite the world. [qt75rx1, Apr 07 2008]


       //There is currently controversy over the use of aircraft on long-haul flights.//
An antiquated statement in keeping with the poster's moniker.
ldischler, Apr 05 2008

       Thanks, [Ian Tindale]. I now have an image of a fantasy island populated entirely by women, possibly getting ready to take off and fly to Venus. Clearly i wouldn't be welcome on such an island.   

       However, yes, there could indeed be such an island, maybe called "New Lesbos".
nineteenthly, Apr 05 2008

       It would be very difficult to build these islands out of mining waste and eroded soil, as these types of soil tend to be light and easily carried away. Even if you dumped a vast amount in the ocean, enough to make a pile large enough to build an inhabitable island, I suspect that it would later turn to mud and sink away into the ocean.   

       I would suggest that you build these islands by sinking steel pilings down into the oceanic bedrock, and surrounding the cores with a thick supporting layer of ferroconcrete. Then protect that in a jacket of kevlar or nickel-chromium to prevent corrosion. Afterwards, once the foundations have been set, you could build a ferroconcrete platform level with the ocean's surface, and cover it with stone and other island-building materials.   

       I strongly doubt that this could disrupt the north Atlantic thermohaline circulation in any way more significant than what humans are already doing with the freshwater influxes from glacial meltwater due to increased global warming. The thermohaline circulation is largely governed by temperature and salinity differences, and it would take a truly immense barrier to alter the landform surrounding it enough to truly deflect the conveyor belt in any significant way.   

       Moreover, should the conveyor belt shut down, this wouldn't necessarily be a counter to global warming. It might gradually lower temperatures in Eastern North America and Europe, but given present rates of global warming, any cooling effect felt locally might even be countered by an equal or greater effect from global warming.   

       It's a technologically feasible idea, certainly -- people have been building offshore platforms for years, and this is just a massive extension of that -- but some of the other details seem a bit sketchy.
qt75rx1, Apr 05 2008

       Thanks for that, [qt]. I suppose it can't alter the quantity of heat currently circulating in the atmosphere and the oceans except for energy released by construction activities. However, the Atlantic Ocean is very deep, so structures linking the ocean floor to the surface would have to be several kilometres tall, which is why i think they might have to be floating platforms rather than islands, rather like oil rigs.   

       How about moving bits of Gran Canaria to reduce the risk of its collapse? If it's going to do it otherwise, this would seem to be a possible use for it as well as reducing the danger.   

       Maybe there are suitable significantly shallower parts of the ocean.
nineteenthly, Apr 05 2008

       A 747, with 200 passengers, gets about 40 miles to the gallon, per passenger.   

       In comparison, snickling people around by light aircraft, boat and car is going to be an environmental disaster. [-]
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 05 2008

       Light aircraft, yes. Sail or rowing boat, as in longship, no. If the Polynesians did it, it would be possible without major environmental influence. Tunnels are another option, though not a very good one because of the depth of the ocean. Island hopping is only one reason for them anyway. I'm imagining a situation where industry is compromised for some reason or other, leading to a drastic drop in the standard of living, meaning that communication by current methods would be impractical.   

       Air transport via airship would be possible too, without so much fuel consumption.
nineteenthly, Apr 05 2008

       It might be cheaper in the long-run, energywise, if we build a transAtlantic high-speed railroad line, to transport cargo and passengers at express-train speeds. It could be a kind of flexible tube built on a string of floating pontoons, anchored to the ocean floor. These artificial archipelago islands could be occasional rest and maintenance stops along the way. There could even be two or four sets of rails for carrying passengers to and fro, and a separate pair of rails for freight. The freight could be remote guided and propelled by rockets, since inanimate objects can withstand higher g-forces than humans.   

       Also, the archipelago needn't actually extend very deep into the ocean. For much of the northern arc of the North Atlantic, along the continental shelf of North America and Northwestern Europe bathymetric soundings indicate an average depth of only 1500 metres. We can easily extend pilings into the shelf area and create a string of islands ringing the North Atlantic from western Ireland, past Iceland, off the Greenland coast, and down across the shallow basin off the Labrador coast and connecting to Newfoundland in Canada.
qt75rx1, Apr 05 2008

       On another thought, the North Atlantic commonly receives extremely rough weather for much of the year. This would be an rather perilous undertaking
qt75rx1, Apr 05 2008

       Nobody considers a southern route... as if hopping from Australia or South Africa to Antarctica was so difficult! You can practically walk across from Ross land to cape Horn.
ye_river_xiv, Apr 05 2008

       That was me. Glad you liked it. :)
pertinax, Apr 06 2008

       Like the idea, [pertinax]. Is it covered in road cones? I feel sorry for Nova Scotia.   

       A southern route would be different: no reason not to do both. More energy from wind power, different habitats to protect delicate ecosystems, but less tourism, less reason to move there and therefore less incentive for other countries to change their political systems.   

       Excellent link, [qt]! The plateau to the south of Iceland and west of Scotland is perfect. In fact, it looks like it might have been above sea level during the Mindel glaciation, and even now is shallower than the height of the highest buildings. The West Atlantic is more dicy though. Maybe islands or a single big island in the east and floating platforms in the west?
nineteenthly, Apr 06 2008

       That would seem to be a good compromise, [nine].
qt75rx1, Apr 06 2008

       Thanks. However, i'm still concerned about the collapse of civilisation scenario. If the western "islands" are floating platforms, they are likely to need maintenance, whereas a mound of rock rising up from the ocean bed, whilst it will gradually get eroded, isn't going to sink. One reason i want them there is to ease travel and communication between Europe and North America at a time when oil and coal are unavailable, the likes of titanium cannot be used, electricity has become unfeasible on a large scale and telecommunications do not exist. On the positive side, even if all that remained was an island south of Iceland, that would still reduce the distance, and changes in sea level wouldn't affect platforms, though storms would.
nineteenthly, Apr 06 2008

       [nineteenthly], in the case of such an event, do you suppose there would be much incentive for the people living on either continent to maintain steady communications with one another? Also, consider that the Norse and later, the Spanish, managed to navigate across the Atlantic without the need for island-hopping. The main barrier to the European exploration of the New World was not in terms of leaky ships not being able to make it across open sea, but primarily in the uncharted nature of the oceans and the primitive techniques of navigation.   

       It would be better served, if the goal is to better facilitate cross-continent, post-collapse communications, to ensure that some basic knowledge of geography and navigation is preserved at all costs.   

       Also, you haven't considered the possibility of bridging the Bering Strait between Russia and North America. Some advantages: the geographic distance between the furthest tip of the Asian continent and North America, is only about 92 km. We could easily breach the distance, as has been proposed previously. In fact, several islands already exist, making it even easier.   

       This neglects the fact, of course, that very few people live in either northeastern Siberia or northwestern Alaska. We could remedy this, while on the subject of superprojects, with very large, well-paved, clearly-marked highways to help our postapocalyptic descendants find our artificial Bering Strait crossing.
qt75rx1, Apr 07 2008

       There seems to be an underwater ridge running most of the way from say Durness, Scotland to about Hafnhrepper, Iceland.   

       There looks to be a couple of trenches cutting across it - one is maybe 100km & the other maybe 30km, but I don't know how accurate my map of the ocean floor is - it's a pretty small scale map.   

       There is another trench between Greenland & Iceland that may be about 50km wide, but it has a ridge running right down the middle of it.   

       You could avoid another deep ocean trench between Greenland & Baffin Island by running along the shelf to the far North in Baffin Bay, but my guess is it would be easier to cut across right along the Artic circle across another maybe 100km trench.   

       I sketched up a way to try and connect the most populus cities in the world by high speed rail, but I didn't run a route from Europe to the US because most of the route - I guess 6000 km from London to New York is mostly very unpopulated.   

       My route from London to New York was probably about 22,000 km's, though. I think it went London, Calais,*,Paris*, Zurich*, Munich*, Budapest*, Belgrade*, Sofia*, Istanbul, Bursa, Ismir, Ankara, Yerevan, Tbilisi, Baku*, Tehran*, Mashhad*, Kabul*, Faisalabad, Lhore, Delhi, Lucknow*, Patna, Dhaka*, Chengdu*, Lanzhou*, Baotou*,Qiqihar, Chimikan*, Magadan, Haycock, Anchorage, Juneau, Edmonton*, Winnipeg*, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Toronto, Ottowa, Montreal, Quebec, Boston, New York. (* indicates a train change).   

       Your way is obviously shorter, but think of all the knick knacks you'll miss out on shopping for.
Zimmy, Apr 07 2008

       When Iceland and Greenland were colonised by the Norse, the climate was warmer. Whereas at the moment the climate may be warming, that doesn't mean it'll stay that way. It could increase precipitation in the form of snow, disrupt the Gulf Stream or increase the reflection of heat due to the collapse of ice in Antarctica and consequent spread of icebergs, and if those happen, the route via Iceland may become less feasible.   

       It has occurred to me, in actual reality, to travel with the family from here to North America via the Bering Straits, mostly overland and fund it via something like a fly on the wall documentary, as an educational activity. It's possible to do that now, given limitless funds and time, and people were able to cross the Bering Straits when it was a land bridge. So, in that case, maybe it would work. There's still a possible climatic problem.   

       You've given me an itinerary. I know you don't have to change at Calais and that you can get to Innsbruck from Calais if you do change, because i've done it. The whole route between Baku and Lahore sounds pretty worrying. Magadan to Edmonton also could be bloody freezing.
nineteenthly, Apr 07 2008


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