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River found under Sahara
September 17, 2002 1:48 PM   Subscribe

River found under Sahara Russian satellites have discovered a river flowing 700 feet under the Sahara. It carries enough water to supply 50,000 people and is said to surge with "colossal power". ---the thing that interests me most about this is the economic impact that this will have on the area. seeing as how wars are being fought over water supplies in the area, what do you see as the most likely result of this discovery??
posted by daHIFI (24 comments total)

 
That's all we needed - a reason to bless the Russian satellites. Next we'll be hearing about the advantages of the Sputnik (Sigue Sigue anyone?) and the general bonomie of Yugi Gagarin.

But bless'em anyway - great news! At least they'll have something to fight over. Me, I'm curious to know how this affects Coronel Ghadaffi's great project...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:57 PM on September 17, 2002


America invades, citing "regime change". Then all the water flows to NorAm. (cynical? YES!)
posted by owillis at 1:57 PM on September 17, 2002


Yuri, I meant.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:57 PM on September 17, 2002


I don't know, Miguel - looks almost like Yogi Gagarin. You know, the lovable cosmonaut bear who always steals pick-a-nick baskets from Space Ranger Smith.
posted by starvingartist at 2:07 PM on September 17, 2002


I'm sure some corporate interest will be there in a minute to purchase water rights.
posted by kat at 2:08 PM on September 17, 2002


The 65,000 people that live in Atar will have more water and they can irrigate a few more fields. This probably won't revolutionize their economy.
posted by joeadk at 2:13 PM on September 17, 2002


Couldn't have happened to a nicer place...
posted by zeoslap at 2:13 PM on September 17, 2002


Water for 50000 people isn't that much in the grand scheme of nations with millions of people in them, and the power of such a stream is probably dwarfed by locally available solar power, which is available on the surface and not 700 feet below ground. On preview: As joeadk says, it's better than a kick in the head, but not a significant enough resource to foment radical change or instability.
posted by cardboard at 2:21 PM on September 17, 2002


I'm a bit confused by the "river" idea. Aquifers I understand, but it seems unlikely that this thing is actually "surging with colassal power." For that, wouldn't it have to have umimpeded flow underground and a fairly clear outlet?
posted by hippugeek at 2:30 PM on September 17, 2002


For that, wouldn't it have to have umimpeded flow underground and a fairly clear outlet?

Though many underground rivers flow through porous rock, there are plenty that do flow through open passages (water filled caverns, essentially.)
posted by badstone at 2:53 PM on September 17, 2002


The amount of water available depends also on how much is used for what--drinking water for desert camels is not the same thing as watering lawns, washing cars, bathing, pools, etc As for wars over water (not yet happened): where it begins to flow can be controlled by the country of "origin" and they can form a watery OPEC to control prices. Me. I hoard bottled water. Buy two dozen every day and stockpile.
posted by Postroad at 2:59 PM on September 17, 2002


Postroad - I keep a brita-filted tank. ;) You should try it; much more efficient, and city water's cheaper than bottled...
posted by SpecialK at 3:17 PM on September 17, 2002


Two words: desalinization plants.
posted by Devils Slide at 5:21 PM on September 17, 2002


seeing as how wars are being fought over water supplies in the area, what do you see as the most likely result of this discovery??
more wars.
posted by quonsar at 5:24 PM on September 17, 2002


"...what do you see as the most likely result of this discovery??"

More bloodshed.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:32 PM on September 17, 2002


Two words: desalinization plants.

Two words: financially impractical.
posted by RevGreg at 6:49 PM on September 17, 2002


seeing as how wars are being fought over water supplies in the area, what do you see as the most likely result of this discovery??

I agree with the others. How does this not work into the wars over water supplies scenario, especially seeing as how it is a pretty small source when all things are considered? And if it was larger? Well, we can't have them go destroying the virgin desert ecosystem, now can we? Greenpeace would be all over them if they tried to irrigate and make the area fertile!
posted by RevGreg at 6:53 PM on September 17, 2002


I guess we could say the general consensus here is for the 'glass half-empty' side...

Should've stopped reading after starvingartist's post. Cosmonaut bears...heh.
posted by Zulujines at 7:00 PM on September 17, 2002


Does it matter at all that most scientists know believe that the Sahara used to be a bustling rain forest during one of the Earth's last warming cycles? Perhaps this "new" river is the remnants of an old river that, at one time, was on the surface. If so, imagine the fossils that could be found down there!
posted by mychai at 9:09 PM on September 17, 2002


Arrakis...Dune...terraforming anyone?
posted by yonderboy at 10:08 PM on September 17, 2002


There's more information about this in the original Geo Information press release, and in the followup.
posted by shinythings at 10:50 PM on September 17, 2002


Surely there's always a balance. If water flows from A to C through B, and people start taking it from point B, it's not going to end up at point C. Which may screw up someones lawn watering or whatever...

(Besides the fact that, as people have pointed out a 50k people supply is not much.)
posted by simonwheatley at 2:03 AM on September 18, 2002


a waterpark would be cool.
posted by kev23f at 2:03 AM on September 18, 2002


i think i read about this in a Clive Cussler novel...but the ending was pretty predictable
posted by NGnerd at 4:26 PM on September 18, 2002


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