Land Reclamation on the Great Meteor Seabank

(ⵎⵓⵙⵜⴰⴼⴰ ⴰⵣⵓⵍⴰⵢ) #1

Hello everybody,

I’m new to this forum so I apologize if this topic has already been brought up before.

I’ve been recently looking into seamounts as a viable settling place for a future oceanic colony. Initially just as a mooring ground for floating cities, but after discovering a number of very shallow areas within those seamounts I started to think whether it could also be possible to actually reclaim land from them.

One of these areas which could be of interest is the Great Meteor Seabank on the west coast of Africa. It has an area roughly 3 kilometers in diameter with depths varying from -29 to -51 meters. These are roughly the depths the Dutch had to work with while reclaiming the Flevoland province.

But that project took place in internal waters, this would be in an open ocean. So my question towards the people who are knowledgeable within this subject would be: how much more of a challenge would such a project be compared to land reclamation in internal waters?

And what would the legal ramifications be of claiming a seamount out in international waters?

Exit on Moral Grounds
(ⵎⵓⵙⵜⴰⴼⴰ ⴰⵣⵓⵍⴰⵢ) #3

In this particular case I was thinking of a more “permanent” solution/settlement.

I’ve looked at Monaco and Singapore, but their cases are a bit different in the sense that they’re not constructing any infrastructure in an open ocean but in relatively calm waters.

(noboxes) #4

Because they had the same problems that raising this seamount to the surface has?°57’10.6"N+28°35’31.3"W/@31.3141386,-40.8088249,4658953m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d29.952944!4d-28.592028?hl=en

It’s a good find, Starscream. I’d suggest you check out the location with an ordinary steel tower, with cable stays off to the side. If it works, make heavier construction. Unless you have something heavy to make a tension leg platform.

Things to look out for: ship collisions, being used as target practice for being an obstacle to navigation, jealous humans trying to take it away from you.

Current international agreements preclude you calling it an island by landfilling it, unless you work for China and have their military backing you up. And their money, getting out there will take some fuel.

Does anyone use it as an anchor site now, like the tables in Carribean are used? A few years ago one of them was turned into a marine reserve and anchoring prohibited by it’s owner. Anchor dragging was really tearing it up.


Quite “complicated” and illegal under UNCLOS.

Look @ China’s land reclamation efforts in the South China Seas. They are getting away with it only because they are China,…

It would be much simpler to buy an existing island, in my opinion.

(noboxes) #6

There may be a loophole. If you establish you have a right to be at that place in the ocean, as in no one has the right to say otherwise, you may have a sphere or column of exclusive rights (which other boaters should stay out of, provided for in UNCLOS in the way of a navigation safety buffer zone) which just happens to include the bottom your place is standing on, simply because your installation does extend to the bottom. This would establish that you can be there.

It’s not going to be as simple, as the same, as claiming existing land. It took time to recognise Taiwan, and recently Jerusalem, as some kind of legal entities, it may take a full fledged seastead the same time. But i am not a lawyer, and i don’t play one on tv.

(.) #7

Progress is limited. As long as there is nothing out there nobody cares.
As soon there is something permanent and above the water, like land,
it is a different thing. When there is land, there is 12 NautMile territorial waters
around it, and 200 miles EEZ (exclusive economic zone). All of the sudden there is
value for a country to claim it. Just the very thing that happened to the Republic of
Minerva. But just because Tonga claimed the artificially created island of the
Republic of Minerva, that did not result in Tonga maintaining the island.
So, the island went under water and there is no island, and there is no Minerva.

I think, it is significant work, that TSI got a Memorandum of Understanding with
the country of French Polynesia for the process of building a floating island.

The Great Meteor Seabank is far from any land,and right now it is all under water.

(noboxes) #8

The sandy reef Minerva landed on only needed a few buckets of sand to raise it above high tide and be called “land”, altho by law it didn’t qualify as an island. The Great Meteor seamount would take literally mountains of rock and dirt to break the surface, and still not qualify as an island. Only recognised land (and owned land) gets the 12mile territorial space and maybe the 200 mile EEZ. An “installation” can get a buffer zone, the size depending on various things. As a legal “installation”, with enough people living on it, and other attributes, and a sense of permanence, perhaps it can be recognised as a country eventually.

(.) #9

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(noboxes) #10

I am just dance out loud tickled pink to see someone else recognising the value of an island-less seamount in international waters. The right to be there is huge. It is great possibilities for the people putting a seastead there, because if they are on a legged platform to the bottom, it’s easy as pie to grow from an initial cheapo tripod out to cover the entire seamount. If the original seasteaders put up poles for living/working space from the bottom in a ring like an atoll, the enclosed space is defacto “their territory” because it cannot be gotten to without driving thru the seastead itself.

It would be a scarey place sometimes, with the storms coming off Africa there. But i believe it could be done.

I found a number of seamounts in international waters, each has it’s good points and it’s bad points. None will be as easy and beautiful and isolated a place as Cay Sal Bank (or a Minerva-like sand bar), so me, personally, i’d start there and wish everyone the best.

Is it wonderful for you too, Sparky?

(.) #11

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(ⵎⵓⵙⵜⴰⴼⴰ ⴰⵣⵓⵍⴰⵢ) #12

Wow, this thread has been an eye opener. I would like to thank all of you for supplying this great wealth of information!

So in other words there is still a great deal of potential out there when it comes to settling the seamounts of the world. :slight_smile:

(noboxes) #13

Something else worth mentioning is the condition of the top of a seamount. The usa declared a few in the Gulf Of Mexico to be marine reserves, due to marine growth on them. There is one seamount in the Pacific i found that has been royally trashed by trawlers, there’s no standing coral on it, just broken up bits remaining. It’s in international waters, pretty deep, and very isolated. I would not touch any off Canada’s British Columbia, or the usa’s Oregon and Washington states, due to latent volcanism and periodic earthquakes. Got to do your research! :slightly_smiling_face:

(MountSteader) #14

I wish you hadn’t disclosed that location Starscream. I have been eyeing it for almost 4 years now. It might already be claimed for off-shore diamond mining, since DuhBeers is operating out of Namibia and was claimed to be working on attempts at offshore mining.

The issues as it stands from my research:
UNICLOS won’t allow it to be claimed as sovereign territory. You can work around this if nations are willing to recognize you as a sovereign entity. However if you are American or a number of other nationalities, they will claim sovereignty over any territory you claim to control. This means any Americans, certain Europeans, etc wishing to found a nation and claim territory will need to be legally stateless, utilizing formal renunciation procedures of their nation where applicable. This won’t save you or your vessels from harassment at sea, but will set up the legal foundations towards both self-sovereignty and international recognition.
Minimum personnel and supplies: About 100 people. The smallest island nation I could find was Pitcairn with 50 people residing on it and ~300 expats. Supplies necessary to roll out a basic seamount colony, modeled loosely off Sealand, would be a few dozen shipping containers, sufficient to be welded end on end as the external mold of legs for a platform. concrete or geopolymer precursors sufficient to fill said legs, pipes or i beams in sufficient quantity to weld together platform superstructure, solar/wind arrays (plus batteries) capable of providing 1kW of continuous (24hr) power per person, water purification and septic storage, plus fencing material and aggregates to begin filling in an area under/near the platform to provide a basis for further work. The biggest point of the platform would be withstanding tropical storms (which that reason doesn’t appear to have many of), mark claim to the territory, and provide docking access for further expansion. Once sufficient aggregate is build up, it can be held in place by regular cheap spools of fencing material, hooked or welded together to provide electrical continuity, then be used as a cathode for biorock production, providing the seed structure for a new reef, which given sufficient financial resources and motivation will provide the foundation for expansion over the whole mount, while also helping to enhance the ecology for the existing sealife, or if it turns out sufficiently barren, imported sealife to complement the coral breeds used as starter.

The reason I had not published these plans more widely is because of the risk of the legal landscape being changed to nip these possibilities in the bud before we could enact a colony. Given that Argentina has already gotten its EEZ expanded up to 350nmi, and Argentina has been the test case for the last two expansions of EEZs, we are in a race against time if we wish to found a seastead, nevermind a sovereign seastead, without bloodshed in ‘high sea’ waters. Besides the location mentioned there are only about 3-4 others that are outside of EEZs and in uncontested waters (I would NOT recommend trying to set up anything in the pacific east of Guam/Hawaii/Other western US territories), as they already have plenty of laws on the books they will use for harassment of anyone in their defacto jurisdiction there, especially anyone flying an unrecognized national flag.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask, and kudos to you Starscream for noticing what a brilliant location that is.

(MountSteader) #15

spark: According to UNICLOS artificial islands are exempt from all those rules. Which is why the US, UK, and others are claiming every uninhabitable island as a ‘nature preserve’ and then using those to illegally claim EEZs around them. That is what Britain has done with Pitcairn and the 3 nearby islands in its chain, despite only Pitcairn and Hendrickson(sp?) Islands qualifying as habitable islands for EEZ and land claim rules.

Buying an island as @Octavian and @noboxes suggest would NOT be easier, since basically every nation’s constitution at this point in time includes provisions stating they are indivisible, such that, outside loss of territory to war, it is not possible to get them to cede sovereign rights to territory, even if legally bought. The last freeheld land available was Svalbard and when some chinese billionaire tried to buy it to establish a foothold, Iceland blocked it and let ‘one of their own’ buy it instead.


“Brilliant”?? It’s a f----ing seamount with the average summit depth @ 270 m (890 ft).

To me, it’s worthless.

(MountSteader) #17

You missed the -29 meter to -51 meter peaks, which are close enough to the surface to anchor a platform to, or with a perimeter barrier, infill to provide the foundation for an artificial island.

If you keep trying to find the perfect location you will never get anywhere. What is needed to start the seastead movement is a permanent encampment which can provide an extralegal building area for other colonist groups to depart from.

(noboxes) #18

I did NOT suggest anywhere buying an island. I am on record on this site as being against Marinea buying any island in the Cay Sal Bank. I have not cooperated with any plan to buy an island, or any shoal.

That said, starting a seastead as a group of private and legal people in the lee waters of an island seems harmless. The point of a seastead is it’s mobile, and there’s advantages to being in deep water and out of waters owned by anyone.

(noboxes) #19

I suggest you calculate the costs and logistics to properly build up that island. Consider how Japan built their airport. Do not count on any investors, because as soon as you mentioned fence wire and biorock holding it all together, they wrote you off.

Tension leg platforms are anchored 10 times that deep. That collection of cable to the bottom constitutes part of the installation, and as such gives a UNCLOS-restricted area over to the platform. The platform matters (vs a boat), it reaching the bottom matters. Putting a bunch of people on it and calling it a country is outside UNCLOS’s purview, as far as i know. Being a country is other countries treating you like a country, not so much what your place looks like (as long as it’s not a boat). In my opinion. @Spark may, or may not, have a different opinion.

(noboxes) #20

Ok, considering the use of a barrier to make the island infill quite a bit steeper, and not slump down, calculating water 100ft deep, the island rising above the water by 20ft, and it being a 20ft flat top so you can pitch a small tent with a portapotty in it, i calculate you will need 73,100 cubic yards of rock. That’s a cube 42x42x42 yards, or 126x126x126 feet. You will need to find the rocks in a transportable form, find transportation to a dock, find a boat, get the rock onto the boat, fuel the boat to and from the island as many times as it takes, have a way to unload the boat as it’s floating over or beside the pile of rock, while the containment is also being built.

When your containment fails, you lose it all. I suggest you plan on using at least ten times as much fill for your 300 sq foot island.

Can you give us an idea how much this artificial and illegal island will cost? Where you will get asmuch as 730,000 cu yards of rock? I am courious how much your island will cost per square foot, and if you plan on getting an investor to provide that money.

(MountSteader) #21

I misread your comment immediately after Octavian’s as supporting the buy an island idea.

Did you take my use of aggregates to mean gravel? I meant to refer to larger stone pieces like used for a stone fence or wall. While there is some chance of settling or shifting, outside of major tidal events it should be safe, and those sorts of events would have just as much chance of causing damage to the platform itself.

Unlike most of you here, I am not interested in a project that requires external investment. my project’s budget aim is 1-3 million dollars with an initial population of 50-100 people. This is doable if sufficient people are found willing to dedicate 3-5 years of their life to such a endeavor. Just like the colonists who once came to the Americas, it would be a hard life, but with the opportunity to forge for themselves a better future than they feel they have where they are.