1. DarkusTerror
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    DarkusTerror Member

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    Background behind an Artificial Island

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by DarkusTerror, Feb 27, 2016.

    In a piece that I am writing, the main setting takes place on an artificial continent about the size of Tasmania. There are three cities on it, with one being much larger than the others. I'm trying to work on a background for it, but time, technology, and plausibility constraints are making me indecisive about what to do.

    The technological level in this world is only slightly above modern day society, but the timespan between now and then is about 80-100 years. In this time, technology would definitely have progressed further than what I'm envisioning, but I'm trying to keep it close to the present time to invoke some familiarity - this isn't a SciFi piece. Because of this time and technological limit, I've only managed to think up of three background scenarios for the setting that still fits in with the plot. These are:

    1. In the process of combating terror attacks, political issues, and economical crises, events occur which separate a large section of an already existing continent. This piece drifts off into the ocean where it is eventually found and 'anchored'. But continental drift takes a long, long period of time, so this is my least plausible backstory.

    2. A meteoroid collides with the Earth in the ocean, causing tidal waves that damage much of society. Money that should have gone to technological advancement is instead diverted to recovery. The meteoroid has valuable materials inside, so excavation begins on its surface. A scaffold built around it soon becomes a small city, then expands into a large island. The problem with this is that a meteor of that size might not simply cause tidal waves, but mass destruction of the crust as well, leading to an apocalyptic-like state if the collision is severe enough. This feels more plausible than 1, but I think it needs to be more convincing.

    3. This is a similar scenario to 2, except that the meteoroid is deemed a global threat, and a large amount of Earth's energy is diverted into a method of destroying the asteroid, and instead of the main object, its fragments impact into the ocean. Excavation still occurs but since the pieces are scattered, the scaffolds cover much more area. The artificial island is built in the same way, with the scaffolds slowly growing in size.

    None of these scenarios are without issues, but I'm trying to set this story on planet Earth, on a different continent than any we know of today, and without being too far ahead in the future. So the question I have here is: which background makes the most sense in the context of time, technology and plausibility?
     
  2. BadCrow
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    BadCrow Member

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    I think the second one would be plausible to some extent... maybe have the asteroid graze the atmosphere of the moon, slowing it down and then touching down in the middle of the pacific. Thing is it would be nothing but a rock with no life and radioactively contaminated...
    Just an idea but if you have fragments of asteriods crash into earth and sink to the bottom of the ocean Humans could build an artifical island themself. Like connected drilling platforms which slowly grew wider as people moved there to supply the workers with food and so on. That way you dont have too much change to the planet.
     
  3. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would be interesting to know why you need to split an existing island, please don't refer to it as a continent, much different geological formation. I would suggest something like a super volcano erupting, lava flows divide the land mass as needed, since it takes many years for lava to cool it is sort of a barrier to ground travel, you have to go around it. The potential for a global winter scenario blocking sunlight, reducing food crops, etc. could play into your technology stall as well.
     
  4. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Aside from anything else, it very definitely is a sci-fi piece, in exactly the same way that Nineteen Eighty-Four is. It doesn't need aliens and spaceships to be science fiction, nor does it need massively advanced technology.

    The second two make more sense than the first - though you might need to go quite a lot more into the global ramifications of such an event than you seem willing to commit to. The volcanic eruption idea could work - these things happen from time to time without necessarily causing much in the way of global disruption - and perhaps it was simply constructed just to prove they damn well could, because that's also a thing that occasionally happens.
     
  5. SMScoles
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    SMScoles Member

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    I don't know how flexible you can be but when I first read the title and some of the ideas, this is the idea I had.

    Some conglomerate is building a truly artificial island in some ocean or sea. Not a crazy idea as there are some projects out their right now proposing to do this. They are anchoring it with big ships, say aircraft carrier, tankers, container ships, etc. And between those they are rigging scaffolds, platforms, housing, power (wind/solar/wave energy/etc). It's up and running and growing already...

    THEN the issue happens.

    Asteroid, tsunami, earthquake, whatever.

    Perhaps it gets dislodged from its anchorage as a lot of stuff is destroyed but survives mostly intact and beaches itself on a reef. Others join, lashing ships, bringing new platforms. Maybe they have a dredging ship that's able to throw more sand from the ocean floor onto the sand bar and build it up. The center of the 'island' has land between the hulls of the big ships and under the scaffolding, which gets thinner and lower as it gets closer to the edge of the flotilla until it turns to floating ships/platforms on the outskirts.

    You mention the island having three cities on it, and my idea might not be big enough for that, though you could probably make it so. Perhaps and island like I propose might have had different 'wings' or 'sectors' grow disgruntled and evolve a little differently. Agrarian, fishing, petrol-based, one has monopolized power for machines, one grows all the crops, another has all the smaller watercraft that can still move about freely (meaning they are not physically attached like the bigger ships and can sail)
    .

    The idea of something 'breaking off a continent and drifting' doesn't make sense.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  6. SMScoles
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    SMScoles Member

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    Or perhaps the above idea can be combined. Maybe the truly artificial island breaks loose in a catastrophe and floats freely until it drifts into or is purposely rammed into a small-medium sized natural island to give the needed size to it all.
     
  7. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Uhm, speaking as one familiar with plate motions and reasons for plate motions (and by extension, threats from meteorites), I would advice against using any meteorite scenario if realism matters.

    Either the meteorite is not big enough that it will not have much impact on society (and cannot therefore contain much 'valuable material'), or it is big enough and you have a worldwide disaster. Plates do not ever separate because of a meteorite impact!

    The only kind of disaster which could have made an impact on plates was the one where our Moon formed. And I leave you to imagine how the impact on Earth was when a large glob of molten fabric was ejected.

    Another hit was at the Cretaecous (which some say killed the Dinosaurs) but even supposing that it did, it didn't have any impact on plates.
     
  8. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    And a super-volcano (sorry @tonguetied this idea does not fly) would not ever divide plates or even large landmasses. It would have a real big impact on climate (ie. there is a study out there that if Yellowstone erupts almost all climate controls are off in a big way), but I really can't see a supervolcano dividing about 30km (average) of Earth's crust.
     
  9. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I would also recommend against using the meteor idea check out

    http://www.planetary.org/explore/space-topics/asteroids-and-comets/sizing-up-the-threat.html

    It would only take a meteor about a mile wide to cause a global catastrophe. The size you're talking about would cause complete obliteration.
    I would suggest some sort of valuable resource being found in highly abundant quantities under the ocean someplace. This would cause a growth economy in the area having businesses set up and start building mining or drilling or whatever you like operations. If you use something like that over say a fifty year period I could envision an entire island being built. You don't want it to be a huge sci-fi centered story but anything written in the future is going to include technological changes. Use those changes to explain how they are doing things and the reader can usually accept the scenario. You don't need to go into a highly technical detailed explanation. Just by saying that they used invention X to do such in such will suffice for most situations.
     
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  10. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lifeline I wasn't suggesting that the island would physically divide, just that access across the volcano lava flows would separate the island in a dramatic way, much more than a river for example. Since Darkus Terror has not responded to any of the posts who knows what they are considering at this point. Maybe a super hot, temperature wise, meteor strikes the ocean and raises the water temperature several degrees thereby causing a rapid increase in sea level rise flooding lowland areas creating new "islands". :) Just kidding of course, if meteors could fly they would have wings.
     
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  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you take the world's largest aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, she has an area of 340m x 78m = .026676 sq km.

    If you take a small city (Townsville, Australia) with a population of 100,000 and an area of 140 sq km, it would take over 5,000 Enterprises to provide the acreage required. Add in a requirement for a total of 3 cities on this island, and you need 15,000 Enterprises, plus probably a minimum of 50,000 more for there to be country between them...

    Plus, in most of the Pacific, where there isn't an existing island formation, there's usually a lot of water between you and the bottom, so anchoring anything is going to be tricky, as is dredging up enough soil to fill in the spaces, and have somewhere to grow stuff so they're not totally reliant on imported food (that isn't seafood, at least!)
     
  12. DarkusTerror
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    DarkusTerror Member

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    Thanks for all the feedback guys. Just to clarify, I'm well aware that a single large asteroid hitting the Earth can cause worldwide destruction even if it is a (relatively) small size. That's why scenario 3 exists, where the asteroid is broken into many much smaller pieces that fall into the ocean. This might still cause tsunamis that could devastate coastline regions, but the chances of overall survival are much higher. As for the volcano idea, I'm just wondering what the point of colonising an island that pops up in the middle of the ocean would be.

    Cooled lava may be a good foundation but there isn't anything of worth or value that humans could obtain from the small piece of land. There wouldn't even be soil or grass or anything for animals to live on since the volcano is underwater, and if they tried mining, all they would find for a long distance down would be igneous rock. It may provide new area for the increasing population to live on, but for that you would need to transport in materials and food supplies, and considering the aftermath of the meteoroid collision, the world would have other priorities at that time. Or at least, that's how my thinking is going so far. One thing I do agree on, though - the island size will probably have to be much smaller than initially planned.
     
  13. SMScoles
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    SMScoles Member

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    Not to pick a fight but more to flesh out my idea (I kind of like the basics of it), that's a pretty narrow definition of a 'city'. The Enterprise had a crew of almost 6000 in regular duty. A large cruise ship carries around 4000 people. If one were to strip out the aircraft and extraneous equipment from both ships (after all, they wouldn't be running), you could probably add a couple thousand to that. Add a cargo ship and build up its top deck with structurez, who knows how many more you'd get in there. And who knows what OPs world would consider a 'city' after this calamity strikes? A ship is much bigger than its top deck. Add in smaller ships, platforms between them, etc.

    Now that structure breaks free from wherever it was and drifts into a sandbar and they are lucky enough to have a dredged attached that worked for the original project in some way.

    As for dredging, maybe this is in the carribean, or a shallower continental shelf type area. Heck, China is building an island this way in the pacific right now.

    A 'city' on the ships, a 'city' on the island from other refugees overwhelming the former floatilla...

    I guess it won't work for OP, and that cool, but it's still fun to think through for me. Thanks for getting me to think about it more!
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
  14. doggiedude
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  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd agree that "city" can be defined more or less how you like; I live in a town that's bigger than the city of Townsville, but what's in a name? I don't have a problem with the basic idea, or your solution, I was simply putting some meat on the pretty bare bones. And unless you're going to accept a city as having a population of, say, 10,000 (compared with the 100,000 that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population appears to require), you've either got to(in the premise of the OP)rename them as towns, or build a bloody big island!

    The problem with your second scenario (several large ships lashed together breaking free and drifting onto a sandbar) is that the conglomerate would probably break up under the stress. 100,000 tonnes moving at even a couple of knots has massive inertia, and the initial design isn't stressed for the emergency stop (from 2 mph to zero in zero feet) that would be required. This http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/18/newsid_4242000/4242709.stm gives a real-life account of what happens when a large ship hits a solid object. If you add in a number of other vessels "added" to the island and you've now got large floating objects being pounded against the stationary carrier with every wave.

    To return to the OP, you could save the basic idea by working on the way that the Wadden Islands are walking to the East. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frisian_Islands

    ETA: Or look at using offshore oil-drilling platforms...they are designed to be stable and unmoving despite sometimes severe sea conditions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016

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