## Saturday, September 14, 2013

### Drain the oceans

From WhatIf (Randall Munroe)

How quickly would the ocean's drain if a circular portal 10 meters in radius leading into space was created at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean?
How would the Earth change as the water is being drained?
–Ted M.

I want to get one thing out of the way first:
According to my rough calculations, if an aircraft carrier sank and got stuck against the drain, the pressure would easily be enough to fold it up[1] and suck it through. Cooool.
Just how far away is this portal?
If we put it near the Earth, the ocean would just fall back down into the atmosphere.
As it fell, it would heat up and turn to steam, which would condense and fall right back into the ocean as rain.
The energy input into the atmosphere alone would also wreak all kinds of havoc with our climate, to say nothing of the huge clouds of high-altitude steam.
So let's put the ocean-dumping portal far away—say, on Mars.
(In fact, I vote we put it directly above the Curiosity rover; that way, it will finally have incontrovertible evidence of liquid water on Mars's surface.)

What happens to the Earth?

Not much.
It would actually take hundreds of thousands of years for the ocean to drain.
Even though the opening is wider than a basketball court, and the water is forced through at incredible speeds,[2] the oceans are huge.
When you started, the water level would drop by less than a centimeter per day.
There wouldn't even be a cool whirlpool at the surface—the opening is too small and the ocean is too deep.[3]
(It's the same reason you don't get a whirlpool in the bathtub until the water is more than halfway drained.)
But let's suppose we speed up the draining by opening more drains.
(Remember to clean the whale filter every few days), so the water level starts to drop more quickly.

Let's take a look at how the map would change.
Here's how it looks at the start:

And here's the map after the oceans drop 50 meters:

It's pretty similar, but there are a few small changes. Sri Lanka, New Guinea, Great Britain, Java, and Borneo are now connected to their neighbors.
And after 2000 years of trying to hold back the sea, the Netherlands are finally high and dry.
No longer living with the constant threat of a cataclysmic flood, they're free to turn their energies toward outward expansion.
They immediately spread out and claim the newly-exposed land.

When the sea level reaches (minus) 100 meters, a huge new island off the coast of Nova Scotia is exposed—the former site of the Grand Banks.
You may start to notice something odd: Not all the seas are shrinking.
The Black Sea, for example, shrinks only a little, then stops.
This is because these bodies are no longer connected to the ocean.
As the water level falls, some basins cut off from the drain in the Pacific.
Depending on the details of the sea floor, the flow of water out of the basin might carve a deeper channel, allowing it to continue to flow out.
But most of them will eventually become landlocked and stop draining.

At 200 meters, the map is starting to look weird.
New islands are appearing.
Indonesia is a big blob.
The Netherlands now control much of Europe.

Japan is now an isthmus connecting the Korean peninsula with Russia.
New Zealand gains new islands. The Netherlands expand north.

New Zealand grows dramatically.
The Arctic Ocean is cut off and its the water level stops falling.
The Netherlands cross the new land bridge into North America.

The sea has dropped by two kilometers.
New islands are popping up left and right.
The Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico are losing their connections with the Atlantic.
I don't even know what New Zealand is doing.

At three kilometers, many of the peaks of the mid-ocean ridge—the world's longest mountain range—break the surface.
Vast swaths of rugged new land emerge.

By this point, most of the major oceans have become disconnected and stopped draining.
The exact locations and sizes of the various inland seas are hard to predict; this is only a rough estimate.

This is what the map looks like when the drain finally empties.
There's a surprising amount of water left, although much of it consists of very shallow seas, with a few trenches where the water is as deep as four or five kilometers.
Vacuuming up half the oceans would massively alter the climate and ecosystems in ways that are hard to predict.
At the very least, it would almost certainly involve a collapse of the biosphere and mass extinctions at every level.

But it's possible—if unlikely—that humans could manage to survive.
If we did, we'd have this to look forward to:

## Friday, September 13, 2013

Melting polar ice is making Arctic waters navigable for more of the year

From BBC

Icebreakers trawl the world's frozen seas, cutting a path for other ships in the harsh Arctic winter. Now, a new kind of ship that can drift sideways could make traffic - and trade - easier.
Could the maritime technology change life in the extreme north?

Traditional icebreakers use their weight, size and power to bulldoze crusts of ice as much as 3m (10ft) thick when the sea freezes over.
In its wake, this special class of ship leaves a narrow, open lane along which other vessels can follow.

In recent years Arctic ship traffic has been rising dramatically, while cargo and crude oil carriers have become bigger and bigger.
Often, two icebreakers as well as supporting vessels are required to open a route wide enough for these ships to pass through.
But a new kind of icebreaker under construction in Helsinki, Finland, has the potential to change the way shipping operates in the frozen north.

The ship's hull, here being lowered into place, is the first asymmetrical design for an icebreaker
The left side of the hull is reinforced for icebreaking and the right is designed to clean up oil spills

The big uncertainty with the Northern Sea Route is weather conditions and sea ice conditions” Prof Klaus Dodds Royal Holloway University of London

When it is finished, the NB 508 will be based in the Russian port of St Petersburg
Experts say the sight of the vessel with the Russian flag on the funnel is symbolically important in the rush to open Arctic sea routes for shipping

The Oblique Icebreaker NB 508, made by the Arctic ship builder Arctech, will become the first of its kind to travel sideways through the ice rather than pound it head-on, cutting a channel as much as 30% wider than conventional icebreakers can manage.
The 76m euro (£65m) ship has been designed with an asymmetrical hull that inclines steeply and is heavily reinforced on its left side, to bear the brunt of the icebreaking.
Although the ship can go faster in open water or while icebreaking head-on, when moving sideways it will creep forward at a speed of just 2 knots (2.3mph), and can only tackle thinner ice of up to 0.6m (23.6in) depth.
But experts say the ship's ability to cut a path of 164ft (50m) outweighs those factors.

'Unpredictable weather'

Prof Klaus Dodds of Royal Holloway University of London says: "Any talk about wider pathways is of huge interest to the Russian Ministry of Transport," for whom the NB 508 is being built.

Maritime traffic is taking off in Russia's strategic Northern Sea Route.
Forty-three vessels sailed that route in 2012, up from just three or four in 2010.
Analysts expect commercial activity to grow further, as melting polar ice makes the sea navigable for more of the year.
Russia charges transit fees to ships moving in its Arctic waters and requires that every ship is accompanied by one of its icebreakers.

But the icebreakers in its fleet are becoming old and many are too small for larger ships and tankers.
The new icebreaker technology is likely to be marketed to energy companies as a boost for shipping and drilling, since most of the ships using that route carry liquefied natural gas (LNG) or crude oil to East Asian markets.

But Prof Dodds says: "The big uncertainty with the Northern Sea Route - as with anywhere in the Arctic - is weather conditions and sea ice conditions, which can change quickly.
"The thing that is of huge concern with the Northern Sea Route - and this of course affects insurance premiums - is the capacity of search and rescue. How do you deal with an emergency?" he adds.

In the Arctic, the sparse population living in tiny communities across huge distances means it can be hard to relieve a ship in distress.
In addition, there are fears over how to cope with an environmental disaster.

The NB 508 is being built as an emergency and rescue vessel that can also clean up oil spills.
At the heart of the boat's design are three rotating "azimuth" propulsors that can turn 360 degrees placed asymmetrically along the ship's keel, with two propulsion units at the back and one at the front to give the icebreaker a high degree of manoeuvrability.

"Collecting oil is basically done by the right-hand side of the ship," says Mika Willberg, project manager for Arctech.
"There is an open hatch and you guide the water - the oily water - inside to an integrated skimmer system."

There is a need for more infrastructure in the Arctic, that's for sure” Craig Eason Lloyd's List

The right side of the 76m-long vessel, with a deadweight of 1,150 tonnes, will move like an arm to sweep up the oily water, Mr Willberg says.
Once inside the tank, the water and oil will be separated by brushes fitted to the inside, and the ship is able to work on cleaning up oily water even in harsh weather conditions.
"The vessel going sideways to collect oil is a new function," he adds.

Craig Eason, technical editor of shipping industry journal Lloyds List, who spent 10 days on board an ice class tanker, says: "Navigating through ice is particularly intense."
"What the crew are doing is to look intensely at the ice, trying to find a passage through it to see which way is the best way to go," he adds.
"See which way it's drifting, see whether there might be a fault in the ice that they could push the vessel through, looking at the ice maps, looking at the ice radar and just doing this intense assessment."

Icebreakers trawl the world's frozen seas, cutting a path for other ships in the harsh Arctic winter. Now, a new kind of ship that can drift sideways could make traffic - and trade - easier.

Large cruise ships (like the Freedom of the Seas in the picture)
need as many as five supporting vessels to move in icy water

The NB 508 will also have two control centres - for operating in conventional and oblique mode.
The NB 508 can also undertake firefighting, towing and rescue operations.

The Arctech project manager says the concept for the oblique icebreakers was born 15 years ago when the ship builder, formerly called Aker Arctic, held an internal competition for a new idea.
The winning concept was an "oblique mode", which turned into a patent in 1997.
"They saw possibility in that," Mr Willberg says.
"The company made some tests with normal icebreakers, eventually developing the whole form of the vessel."
Different versions of the vessel were put together over the years, but Mr Willberg says the design never sold, perhaps "some of the customers were a little suspicious" of whether it could actually be pulled off.

But even though the NB 508 is due to be delivered to the Russians in early 2014, there are obstacles to reproducing the design for wider use.
From its home port of St Petersburg, the NB 508 is designed to operate in the icy waters of the Baltic Sea's Gulf of Finland.
"With that in mind it will have a certain limit on its fuel capacity, so taking it further afield could be problematic in terms of its range," says Mr Eason.
"But there is a need for more infrastructure in the Arctic, that's for sure."

## Thursday, September 12, 2013

### Canada CHS update in the Marine GeoGarage

1 chart has been added (3981 Laredo Channel & Laredo Inlet) and 50 charts have been updated (August 30, 2013) :
• 1226 ANCHORAGES AND HARBOURS INSTALLATIONS / HAUTE COTE-NORD
• 1350A SOREL - TRACY TO RUISSEAU LAHAISE
• 1350B RUISSEAU LAHAISE O SAINT-ANTOINE-SUR-RICHELIEU
• 1350C SAINT-ANTOINE-SUR-RICHELIEU TO ILE AUX CERFS
• 1350D ILE AUX CERFS TO OTTERBURN PARK
• 1351A BASSIN DE CHAMBLY TO ILE SAINTE-THERESE
• 1351B ILE SAINTE-THERESE TO POINTE LA MEULE
• 1351C POINTE LA MEUILE TO POINTE NAYLOR
• 1351D POINTE NAYLOR TO LAKE CHAMPLAIN
• 1429 CANAL DE LA RIVE SUD
• 2200 LAKE HURON
• 2204A BYNG INLET TO/KILLARNEY
• 2204B BYNG INLET TO/KILLARNEY
• 2204C BYNG INLET TO/KILLARNEY
• 2204D BEAVERSTONE BAY TO/KILLARNEY
• 2228A LAKE HURON / SOUTHERN PORTION
• 2228B GODERICH HARBOUR
• 2300 LAKE SUPERIOR
• 3410 SOOKE INLET TO PARRY BAY
• 3447 NANAIMO HARBOUR AND DEPARTURE BAY
• 3461 JUAN DE FUCA STRAIT EASTERN PORTION
• 3462 JUAN DE FUCA STRAIT TO STRAIT OF GEORGIA
• 3724 CAAMANO SOUND AND APPROACHES
• 4002 GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE
• 4010 BAY OF FUNDY INNER PORTION
• 4013 HALIFAX TO SYDNEY
• 4023 NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT
• 4024 CHALEUR BAY TO ILES DE LA MADELEINE
• 4140 AVON RIVER AND APPROACHES
• 4241 LOCKEPORT TO CAPE SABLE
• 4279 BRAS D'OR LAKE
• 4381 MAHONE BAY
• 4384 PEARL ISLAND TO CAPE LA HAVE
• 4452 BAIE COACOACHOU
• 4453 ILE LA BRUME TO POINTE CURLEW
• 4454 POINTE CURLEW TO BAIE WASHTAWOUKA
• 4455 BAIE WASHTAWOUKA TO BAIE PIASHTI
• 4824 GARIA BAY TO BURGEO
• 4825 BURGEO AND RAMEA ISLANDS
• 4826 BURGEO TO FRANCOIS
• 4845 RENEWS HARBOUR TO MOTION BAY
• 4954 CHENAL DU HAVRE DE LA GRANDE ENTRE
• 5023 CAPE HARRISON TO NUNAKSALUK ISLAND
• 5024 NUNAKSALUK ISLAND TO CAPE KIGLAPAIT
• 5048 CAPE HARRIGAN TO KITLIT ISLANDS
• 5049 DAVIS INLET TO SENIARTLIT ISLANDS
• 5051 NUNAKSUK ISLAND TO CALF COW AND BULL ISLANDS
• 5054 SOUTH AULATSIVIK ISLAND TO FENSTONE TICKLE ISLAND
• 5055 CAPE KIGLAPAIT TO KHIKKERTARSOAK NORTH ISLAND
• 5056 KHIKKERTARSOAK NORTH ISLAND TO MORHARDT POINT
• 5057 HARE ISLAND TO NORTH HEAD
• 5059 SAGLEK BAY
• 5060 CAPE DALY TO AMIKTOK ISLAND
• 5061 AMIKTOK ISLAND TO OSBORNE POINT
• 5062 OSBORNE POINT TO CAPE KAKKIVIAK
• 5063 CAPE KAKKIVIAK TO DUCK ISLANDS
• 5064 MCLELAN STRAIT
• 5065 GRAY STRAIT AND BUTTON ISLANDS
• 5390 WAKEHAM BAY FISHER BAY AND APPROACHES
• 7620 DEMARCATION BAY TO LIVERPOOL BAY
So 689 charts (1663 including sub-charts) are available in the Canada CHS layer. (see coverage)

Note : don't forget to visit 'Notices to Mariners' published monthly and available from the Canadian Coast Guard both online or through a free hardcopy subscription service.
This essential publication provides the latest information on changes to the aids to navigation system, as well as updates from CHS regarding CHS charts and publications.

### Beware of the sea monster! Book charts mythical creatures of medieval maps

One of the classic images of a sea monster on a map: a giant sea-serpent attacks a ship off the coast of Norway on Olaus Magnus’s Carta marina of 1539, this image from the 1572 edition.
Credit: National Library of Sweden, shelfmark KoB 1 ab

From LiveScience (by Tanya Lewis)

The iconic sea serpents, mermaids and other mythical creatures found on world maps from medieval and Renaissance times splash to life on the pages of a new book.

The "Great Sea Serpent" according to Hans Egede

Chet Van Duzer's "Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps" (British Library, 2013) charts the evolution of the mythical creatures that adorned atlases from the 10th century through the 17th century.

Cartographers used the beastly art to illustrate mysterious, unexplored regions of the globe and the possible dangers of seafaring.
Despite their wild appearance, many of these creatures were based on real animals.
"The creatures look purely fantastic.
They all look like they were just made up," Van Duzer, a map historian at the Library of Congress, said here Thursday (Sept. 5) in a talk about his book.
"But, in fact, a lot of them come from what were considered, at the time, scientific sources."

A siren admires herself in a mirror, a symbol of vanity, near a ship on Pierre Desceliers’s world map of 1550.
The styles and colors in which the water is painted beneath the siren and ship are different, suggesting that the siren was painted by a sea monster specialist.
Credit: British Library, Add. MS 24065

Bizarre beasts

Sea monsters on maps run the gamut from menacing sea serpents to improbable lion-fish hybrids.
Many cartographers simply copied these sea monsters from illustrated encyclopedias, Van Duzer told LiveScience.
At other times, particularly a period in the 16th century, mapmakers took some poetic license with the animals (like terrestrial-aquatic hybrid animals).

An ichthyocentaur playing a viol on the map of Scandinavia in Ortelius’s Theatrum orbis terrarum (Antwerp, 1571)
Credit: British Library, Maps.C.2.c.5., map 45

But depictions of these creatures have been studied very little, Van Duzer said.
Though people in modern times typically think of monsters as mythical beasts, whales and walruses were considered monsters in medieval and Renaissance times.
In his book, Van Duzer, who was a 2012 Kluge fellow at the Library of Congress and has since joined its staff, charts the origin of sea monsters from "mappa mundi," medieval European maps of the world; nautical maps; and Ptolemy's Geography, a treatise by the Greco-Roman mathematician and scientist Claudius Ptolemy, which contained an atlas of the known world during the second century.

An early vision of wind-surfing: a woman holds a sail in order to ride the waves on the back of a sea monster. From Paolo Forlani, Vniversale descrittione di tvtta la terra conoscivta fin qvi (Venice, 1565).
Credit: Library of Congress

Mappa mundi aren't the most geographically accurate maps, but they contain a treasure trove of bizarre animals.

Jonah being cast overboard to the sea monster, from Ortelius’s map of the Holy Land in his Theatrum orbis terrarum.
Credit: British Library, Maps 9.Tab.9., map 97

One illustration depicts a man in the belly of a monster, most likely a reference to the biblical story of Jonah and the whale. Another shows a creature with the head of a chicken and the body of a fish. "Every land creature had an equivalent in the sea," Van Duzer said.
A Latin version of Ptolemy's Geography known as the Madrid manuscript is the only version that contains sea monsters.
Close inspection of the map reveals the sea monsters were drawn by an expert — likely an add-on to increase the map's sale value, Van Duzer said.

Dangers of the deep

These monstrous creatures suggest a world full of dangers lurking in distant oceans.
Gigantic octopuses drag ships and sailors into the sea, and seductive sirens flaunt their beauty.

Whales attacking a ship on Olaus Magnus’s Carta marina of 1539, this image from the 1572 edition. The sailors jettison barrels and a man on the ship plays a trumpet in order to scare the monsters away.
Credit: National Library of Sweden, shelfmark KoB 1 ab

Whales feature prominently in medieval and Renaissance maps.
Many sketches allude to an ancient story about sailors mistaking a whale for an island.
In the story, sailors anchor their ship to the whale's back and light a fire to cook food.
When the whale feels the fire's heat, it plunges into the deep, carrying the ship and sailors along with it.
Portrayals of whales and other map creatures became more realistic during the early 17th century.
Maps from this era show ships exerting dominion over the beasts of the ocean.
Eventually, the beasts disappeared from maps altogether.
Modern maps, which lack these fantastic beasts, have absolutely lost something, Van Duzer said.

## Wednesday, September 11, 2013

### A sea change for the America’s Cup

America's Cup Finals Race 4 Start

From NYTimes

There is a moment when the yachts racing in this year’s America’s Cup go from being mere boats to something more like flying machines.
It happens at around 17 knots, or 20 miles per hour, when both hulls of the carbon-fiber catamarans rise out of the water and the entire craft skims over the surface on a thin hydrofoil beneath the downwind pontoon.
Free of the water’s drag, the vessels accelerate to speeds as great as 50 miles per hour.

America's Cup : racing above water
New York Times interactive

The sportswriter Red Smith has been credited with remarking that the America’s Cup is about “as exciting as watching grass grow.”
For most of the event’s 162-year history, racing took place far from shore and in heavy monohull boats that displaced lots of water and plodded around the courses at average speeds of around 10 miles per hour.
But after winning the last cup in Valencia, Spain, in 2010, Larry Ellison, the billionaire software mogul and the owner of Oracle Team USA, pushed for changes to try to make things more exciting and spectator-friendly.

Because the cup’s charter — known as the Deed of Gift — permits the defender to choose the venue of the next competition, he was able to have it take place in San Francisco Bay, within sight of the shore, where organizers have put up grandstands.
Ellison and his team also got the competition to accept a new boat design that features 131-foot-tall wing sails atop 72-foot-long hydroplaning catamarans.
These yachts, called AC72s, now travel nearly four times as fast as the boats of old — and for sustained bursts they can move more than twice as fast as even the multihulls that competed in 2010. (Those craft didn’t hydrofoil.)
John Rousmaniere, who writes about sailing and the history of the America’s Cup, describes them as “Indy cars without brakes.”

Oracle Team USA vs Emirates Team NZ

Getting spectators to embrace the souped-up sport has not been without challenges, however. Organizers were expecting as many as 12 teams to vie for the opportunity to take on Oracle Team USA in September, before racing began in July to determine the finalist.
But the cost of an America’s Cup campaign — which can creep as high as \$100 million for the expensive boats and more than three years of salaries for crew and support staff — deterred potential entrants, and only three challengers showed up.
The poor turnout has both dampened the economic boost the host city was counting on and reduced the potential global TV audience.

There are doubts about the safety of the yachts themselves, too.
Last October, one of Oracle’s boats capsized during training, and the wing sail broke into pieces.
No one was hurt then, but in May, a 36-year-old British sailor and Olympic medalist named Andrew Simpson was killed when the yacht of the Swedish team Artemis Racing capsized and broke up during training, trapping the crewman under water.
While Simpson’s death is not the first for an America’s Cup sailor — two crewmen were killed in separate training events in 1903, and two more while training in 1935 and 1999 — the incident prompted a slight reduction in the upper wind speed limit for races.
“These boats are immensely powerful,” Rousmaniere says, referring to the AC72s.
“It’s an entirely different kind of boat — a whole new realm.”

When the photographer Mike Escamilla showed up in July to take pictures aboard one of Oracle’s two racing yachts, he had little appreciation for the speed or danger of the AC72.
Escamilla, a Los Angeles-based professional stuntman and BMX rider, has also made a name for himself online with his videos and photographs of extreme sports.
But he knew next to nothing about the America’s Cup.
“I thought I was going to jump on some sailboats that were kind of fast and shoot some photos,” he says.

The first sign that the experience might not be so routine came when Escamilla checked in at headquarters on Pier 80 in San Francisco.
He was given a dry suit, a life preserver, a harness and a helmet, as well as a knife and an air canister, to help him survive in case he got trapped underwater in a capsize.

Escamilla was lucky to get onboard at all.
After Simpson’s death, it was decided that the extra spot onboard — traditionally reserved for sponsors, dignitaries and members of the news media — would no longer be available during racing. The boats, the thinking goes, are too dangerous for all but seasoned crews.
Oracle agreed to allow Escamilla onboard for what turned out to be 45 minutes on a practice run.
He took most of his pictures on small and light GoPro digital cameras, often affixed to parts of the boat or a small telescoping pole, to help him get shots above the spray and the scrum of the 11-man crew jumping back and forth across the trampoline between the boat’s hulls.

The restrictions seemed a bit much to Escamilla, who once back-flipped his BMX bike over the rotating blades of a helicopter for a show on MTV.
But as soon the yacht lifted out of the water on its hydrofoils, Escamilla says, he began to understand.
The ride became eerily smooth as the hulls left the surface, the crew scrambling about all the while to keep what amounted to an awkwardly shaped airplane from going nose first into the sea.
On these downwind runs, Escamilla was asked to stow his pole — the risk of it flying away and hitting someone was too great, he was told, and besides, he needed to hang on.

“I’ve been in a lot of situations, and I don’t really get scared — I get concerned,” Escamilla says. “When we got moving, I spent a lot of time looking at people’s faces to see how things were going, and there were times when I was very concerned.”

After just 25 minutes, Escamilla says, he was spent.
The sailors themselves were just getting started on a practice session that would last hours, in preparation for an event that could consist of as many as 17 races in early September.
When he debarked Oracle’s yacht by way of a support boat, Escamilla says, he did so with a certainty that for better or worse, the America’s Cup is now extreme.

“Of all the things I’ve ever done in my life,” he says, “this was one of gnarliest.”

## Tuesday, September 10, 2013

### How China sees the South China Sea

>>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

From The Naval Diplomat (by James R. Holmes)

Last week a friend asked me to revisit a historical analogy broached in those thrilling days of yesteryear when I wrote for Flashpoints.
Good idea.
There is more to say about the comparison, which sheds light on why China plays well with others in the Indian Ocean but not the China seas.

2003 photograph from the International Space Station of the South China Sea
which includes the Eldad Reef and Itu Aba Island features.
Image credit: Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center

The analogy is the doctrine of "no peace beyond the line" practiced in late Renaissance Europe.
To recap: in a nifty bit of collective doublethink, European rulers struck up a compact whereby nations could remain at peace in Europe, avoiding the hardships of direct conflict, while assailing each other mercilessly beyond a mythical boundary separating Europe from the Americas.
In practice this meant they raided each other's shipping and outposts in the greater Caribbean Sea and its Atlantic approaches.

Strait of Malacca
>>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

It feels as though an inverse dynamic is at work in the Indo-Pacific theater.
Naval powers cooperate westward of the line traced by the Malay Peninsula, Strait of Malacca, and Indonesian archipelago.
Suspicions pockmarked by occasional confrontation predominate east of the South China Sea rim, a physical — rather than imaginary — line dividing over there from home ground.

A non-Renaissance European, Clausewitz, helps explain why seafaring powers can police the Gulf of Aden in harmony while feuding over the law of the sea in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
It's because the mission is apolitical.
Counterpiracy is the overriding priority for the nations that have dispatched vessels to the waters off Somalia.
Few if any of them have cross-cutting interests or motives that might disrupt the enterprise.
It's easy to work together when the partners bring little baggage to the venture.

1638 map of Southeast Asia, China, India, the Philippines and western Oceania (with early location of Northwestern Australia, marked as "Tlandt van Deendracht")

Or think of it in terms of vector mechanics.
Clausewitz's go-to formula holds that how much a government values its political goals should dictate the magnitude and duration of the effort it mounts to obtain those goals.
In a coalition, each partner performs its own calculations.
Because countries have different interests, inhabit different bits of territory, and see the world through different historical and cultural lenses, their value-of-the-object calculations tend to differ.
The vectors diverge.
Disparate priorities complicate efforts to align the arrows in more or less the same direction, achieving common purposes, strategy, and operations.

It's rare indeed that coalition partners have the same goals, with few ulterior motives interfering with coalition management.
But that does seem to be the case in the western Indian Ocean.
The strategic vectors point in the same direction, largely of their own accord.
The only real difference is the degree of effort each partner puts forth.
Quarrels over free-riding, however, are minimal in a voluntary, informal consortium like the counterpiracy task force.
Ergo, peace — even cooperation — beyond the line.

>>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

You see where I'm going with this.
The expedition to the Gulf of Aden is an easy case.
It proves a trivial result, namely that rivals can collaborate for mutual gain when they have the same interests in an endeavor.
Now plant yourself in East Asia and survey the strategic terrain within the perimeter separating the Indian from the Pacific Ocean.
China views the South China Sea, to name one contested expanse, not as a commons but as offshore territory.
Indeed, Beijing asserts "indisputable sovereignty" there.

Such pretensions grate on Southeast Asian states, while the United States hopes to rally coalitions and partnerships to oversee the commons.
But if Beijing is serious about the near seas' constituting "blue national soil" — and our Chinese friends are nothing if not sincere — then outsiders policing these waters must look like invaders.
How else would you regard foreign constables or armies roaming your soil — even for praiseworthy reasons — without so much as a by-your-leave?

Southeast Asians' exclusive economic zones (EEZs)

To Chinese eyes, then, Southeast Asians' exclusive economic zones (EEZs) must resemble unlawful occupation of Chinese borderlands.
And if there's an iron law of strategy, it's that protecting sovereign territory represents a political aim commanding the utmost importance.
In Clausewitzian parlance, it demands maximum defensive effort for as long as it takes.
Trying to co-opt ASEAN governments or scuttle U.S.-led constabulary enterprises makes sense if you reason from Chinese precepts.

The upshot: coalition partner beyond the line, coalition breaker this side of the line.
There is a common denominator between the Asian and Renaissance European cases, then, namely turf.
Home turf.
Europeans agreed that different rules would govern their interactions at home and overseas. In so doing they spared themselves the ravages of cross-border invasion.
This bespoke a fundamentally conservative outlook.
China is trying to regain what it considers its historic maritime periphery.
Consequently, it has assumed a more acquisitive, offensive posture.

Either way, securing one's home ground and environs is Job One.
The character of undertakings in faraway theaters, by contrast, depends on the extent to which national interests coincide or clash in those theaters.
Rivals might cooperate out of expediency, go at each other, or ignore each other.
Bottom line, the counter-piracy campaign is an eminently worthwhile endeavor.
It should continue. Whether it can be replicated in more fractious zones on the map — and whether it can improve overall relations among nations — is another question entirely.

## Monday, September 9, 2013

### Underwater volcano is Earth's biggest

Tamu Massif rivals the size of Olympus Mons on Mars.

From Nature (Alexandra Witze)

Geophysicists have discovered what they say is the largest single volcano on Earth, a 650-kilometre-wide beast the size of the British Isles lurking beneath the waters of the northwest Pacific Ocean.

>>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<
Tamu Massif is the largest feature of the Shatsky Rise mountain range, marked on this map, situated around 1,000 miles east of Japan.
The range was formed following the eruption of the Tamu Massif volcano between 130 and 145 million years ago

The megavolcano has been inactive for some 140 million years.
But its very existence will help geophysicists to set limits on how much magma can be stored in Earth's crust and pour out onto the surface.
It also shows that Earth can produce volcanoes on par with Olympus Mons on Mars, which, at 625 kilometres across, was until now the biggest volcano known in the Solar System.

“This says that here on Earth we have analogous volcanoes to the big ones we find on Mars,” says William Sager, a marine geologist at the University of Houston in Texas.
“I’m not sure anybody would have guessed that.”
Sager and his colleagues describe the structure, named Tamu Massif, in Nature Geoscience on 8 September.
‘Tamu’ is an acronym for Texas A&M University in College Station, where Sager was formerly employed.

This chart shows the Tamu Massif's location along the Shatsky Rise - a mountain range beneath the Pacific.
A single eruption from the volcano is thought to have caused the range to form between 130 and 145 million years ago.
The chart also shows Tamu Massif's relative size to Mars' Olympus Mons volcano

Tamu Massif has been long known as one of three large mountains that make up an underwater range called the Shatsky Rise.
The rise, about 1,500 kilometres east of Japan, formed near a junction where three plates of Earth’s crust once pulled apart.

Shallow rock cores from Tamu had previously revealed that it was made of lava.
But geologists thought that the mountain, which rises 4 kilometres from the sea floor, might have built up from several volcanoes erupting such that their lava merged into one pile.
The islands of Hawaii and Iceland were built this way.

Seismic tracks from cruise MGL1004 of the R/V Marcus G. Langseth.  Blue and green dots show ocean bottom seismometer locations used for seismic refraction lines (A-B, C-D).
Heavy red lines indicate multichannel seismic lines.
Dotted lines show planned future MCS lines and purple line shows extra multibeam bathymetry data collection.
Yellow stars indicate sites where drill cores were obtained

Sager and his colleagues were startled by findings they made after sailing the research vessel Marcus G. Langseth over Tamu in 2010 and 2012.
They used air guns to send seismic waves through the mountain, and monitored the reflections.
The seismic waves penetrated several kilometres into the massif — and showed that all of its lava flows dipped away from the volcano’s summit, implying a central magma vent.
“From whatever angle you look at it, the lava flows appear to come from the centre of this thing,” says Sager.

Over time, the lava coursed downhill and then solidified, building up a volcano with a long, low profile similar to that of a shield laid on the ground.
The world’s biggest active shield volcano, Mauna Loa on Hawaii, has an areal footprint just 15% of Tamu’s — but Mauna Loa is taller, rising 9 kilometres from sea floor to summit.
Scott Bryan, a geologist at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, warns that not all of Tamu may have come from a single magma vent. There could be separate sources, deeper than the seismic waves penetrated, that could have oozed out lava and inflated the mountain from below, he says.

Because ship time is at a premium, the study is one of the first to peer at the internal geometry of these massive underwater mountains.
It is possible that other megavolcanoes are waiting to be discovered.
“There may be bigger ones out there,” says Sager.

• National Geographic : New Giant Volcano Below Sea Is Largest in the World
• University of Houston : Scientists confirm existence of largest single volcano on Earth
• DailyMail : Volcano the size of Oregon discovered beneath the Pacific Ocean (but luckily it's extinct)

## Sunday, September 8, 2013

### Angelfish

Synopsis: While searching for isolation, an aimless young man named August moves to live aboard a sailboat on New York City's East River.

"Tyburski’s emotional depiction of the unexpected secondary effects of globalization on the development of today’s society exudes more sincerity and humility than most of his other contemporaries. This film is a rare account of the superb threads in the human mind."
- Stephan Timonie, HY.GEN.IC -