Nature Creates a River
November 9, 2007 10:56 AM   Subscribe

While God was fooling around with his celestial SimCity control panel, he accidentally built a river right through the middle of a road.

posted by brain_drain (47 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
good for nature.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:59 AM on November 9, 2007

Neat pictures. Is there some context to these available? Where did this happen? What caused it?
posted by cerebus19 at 11:00 AM on November 9, 2007

...SimCity control panel

So we all really are living in the matrix?
posted by tepidmonkey at 11:01 AM on November 9, 2007

Accidentally, you say. Hmmm.
posted by dhartung at 11:01 AM on November 9, 2007

posted by dirtdirt at 11:01 AM on November 9, 2007 [6 favorites]

posted by phaedon at 11:04 AM on November 9, 2007 [6 favorites]

cerebus19, I had the same questions and dug around before posting this, but I didn't find anything. Others may have better luck (or better research skills).
posted by brain_drain at 11:05 AM on November 9, 2007

Where/when/what the heck was that?

I like that until the river makes it all the way across the road, though, that park which is obviously the next stop on the thing's course is still open.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 11:05 AM on November 9, 2007

Come now dirtdirt, give the rivers a little more credit.
posted by otolith at 11:06 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Urban superimposed stream systems. Sweet.
posted by Big_B at 11:08 AM on November 9, 2007

As to what caused it - I'd be willing to bet there was originally a stream channel there that was filled to make the road.
posted by Big_B at 11:09 AM on November 9, 2007

I'll never watch "A River Runs Through It" the same way again.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:09 AM on November 9, 2007

"Accidentally"? Hah.
posted by ardgedee at 11:11 AM on November 9, 2007

posted by SansPoint at 11:19 AM on November 9, 2007 [10 favorites]

SimCity = Click.

It is rather ironic that a game that is now including climate awareness into the package forced me to leave my SNES on for days on end, allowing the city to tick over and make me millions.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 11:25 AM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

Reminds me of when I pee on an ant hill.
posted by zzazazz at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2007

Come now dirtdirt, give the rivers a little more credit.

Indeed. The Salton Sea was the result of a total rout of Team Roads by the Colorado River. It's completely manmade, although inadvertantly.
posted by LionIndex at 11:29 AM on November 9, 2007

Made me think of the "crane rescuing a car" photos. Last one is fake.

takeyourmedicine, do you remember strategy guides saying "Leave your SNES on overnight, but be sure to bulldoze your airport so no planes crash." Which is insane, but it worked.
posted by ALongDecember at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

This was in in Toronto last year, I remember seeing it on the news. I can't remember exactly was in the 'burbs somewhere. And I think it was already a river, it just became a bigger one.
posted by chococat at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2007

Those photographs are framed to be a bit deceptive. You can't see far enough to the right and left.

What I would guess is that there was already a culvert there, but a storm resulted in enough extra water flow that it began to go around outside the culvert, and thus to erode the soil under the roadbed. Eventually it eroded the road away entirely.

If so, it's not that they didn't know it was there when they built the road, but rather that they underestimated how much water it might carry during a big storm.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2007

Water doesn't obey your "rules." It goes where it wants to. Like me, babe.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Okay, it was Finch Avenue in North York, (Greater Toronto Area) and it was the Black Creek that flooded. Here's a forum post about it.
posted by chococat at 11:42 AM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

While I was failing to turn up what chococat just nailed, I found this academic's page on hydrodynamic, including engineering failures. Whee!
posted by cortex at 11:44 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


This takes me back to elementary school computer class.
Boy, I sure did love to hear those citizens cheer when the tax rate was lowered to 1% or sometimes even zero! I could just picture their beaming little faces all crying that garbled unanimous "YAHAYYYY!" With the infinite amount of funds accrued from that amazing code, I would build a whole slew of exciting stadiums, parks, schools and some of those really incredible ARCO buildings you could choose from. My cities were vast, proud and beautiful. It was a simple time, when the alpacas and dromedaries roamed free and the people basked in the glory of my anti-Dullsvillian policies.

Then I would unleash the monster.
posted by inqb8tr at 11:44 AM on November 9, 2007 [13 favorites]

This is one of the several reasons I hate people who swipe and repurpose other people's content for page views and ad serving. Not just that it's a greasy act of thievin' but it destroys context; the people who do this are generally ignorant f*cks who can't write a coherent sentence in any language and are just out to make a buck off the web. It'd be nice to know when and where this was. This was worth looking at but all the same I wouldn't object if mattamyntex deleted these on principle.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:45 AM on November 9, 2007 [5 favorites]

It was also the same massive afternoon thunderstorm/holy hailstorm that caused an Air France jet to slide off the runway at the airport, then catch on fire. No serious injuries at either location.
posted by Paid In Full at 12:14 PM on November 9, 2007

Mark Twain said, of the Mississippi, "Ten thousand river commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or confine it, cannot say to it, 'Go here,' or 'Go there,' and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over and laugh at."
posted by beetsuits at 12:18 PM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

It's this sort of thing that makes me realize that once humans are gone, most of the infrastructure that we leave behind will last no time at all.
posted by quin at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

dirtdirt, if you ever want to go Rivers v. Roads in a no-holds-barred cage match, I'll take Rivers every time. Power of water crushes all.

River meander, and then once they've meandered enough they will cut through their own meanders to make a shorter channel. If a town, for example, is built on a jut of land surrounded by a meander, then it's only a matter of time before the river cuts its meander and goes through the town. (It might be a matter of a long time, as human lifetimes are concerned.)

Rivers build deltas, and again, they eventually cut through them to make a shorter channel to the sea (or whatever their outlet basin is). The Mississippi has done this before, and has been trying to do it again (by jumping channels in the Atchafalaya) for a long time, and we've only been able to slow it down. It will eventually jump. (A nice look at this in lay terms is The Control of Nature by John McPhee.)

You can't stop floods, try as we might. We can only make rational policies to mitigate the damage from them.

You can't stop mudslides; again recognizing that they will happen and adjusting our policies accordingly is the only course that makes sense.

Roads and other paving have actually made flooding worse in the US, because the water that would normally be absorbed by the ground runs off into sewer and other channels, leading to more water in main river systems.

Also, from the wiki link about these photos: they just built it over again?!
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:30 PM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

"Nature bats last."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:30 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

And cortex: that link is great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:38 PM on November 9, 2007

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. The kill us and ruin or lovely roads for their sport.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:14 PM on November 9, 2007

It's this sort of thing that makes me realize that once humans are gone, most of the infrastructure that we leave behind will last no time at all.

Your House Without You/New York Without Us.

For some reason, I love post-apocalyptic stuff like this. Can hardly wait for "I Am Legend" next month.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:26 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

This was pretty amazing to watch when it happened. Myself and a friend were looking at an apartment to rent in the building these photos were taken from. We watched this happen from our new balcony. The photos actually miss out on the most sublime part of the situation, when the creek was literally rushing over the as-yet uncollapsed roadway.

They also give you no sense of how incredibly long this took to repair. Among all our civilization's onrushing crises, our infrastructure debt shouldn't be underestimated. Maintaining our built environments through the next quarter century is going to be a significant challenge, worsened significantly by the costs of the oil peak and climate change.
posted by kowalski at 1:46 PM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

While God was fooling around with his celestial SimEarth control panel, he accidentally zapped the hominids and they made sure that they got plastic everywhere.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:47 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

The second video in that Your House Without You link blended oddly well, in a moderately disturbing way, with the Gong song (Magick Mother Invocation) that I had on in the background.
posted by nzero at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2007

So the collapse of a small road in Canada shows that water is invincible, huh? Aral Sea? Lake Chad? Or if they're too obscure, the Netherlands? Come on, guys. Water? pwned, dude!!11!!1
posted by Phanx at 2:24 PM on November 9, 2007

Google map link for the location, hardly a trace to be seen of the flood. Back when I went to nearby York University, I enjoyed walking in this area.
posted by sudasana at 2:40 PM on November 9, 2007

Yeah right, like this was natural. It's Al Qaeda, OPEN YOUR EYES MAN!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:48 PM on November 9, 2007

kowalski - how long did it take, from creek-running-over-land to total collapse? A matter of hours or days or what?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:16 PM on November 9, 2007

Needs TorontoFilter tag.

I remember lots of media coverage of this at the time, but none of it illustrated the cause/effect as clearly as these pics. I also remember Finch being closed for months (wiki says 3-4 months).
posted by Chuckles at 3:27 PM on November 9, 2007

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period,' just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
-- Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:50 PM on November 9, 2007

When rivers start taking over like that, the logical thing to do is just give up and let the rivers become your roads. That's what Vienna did anyway. Well, alright. The logical thing to do is MOVE. But failing that, let the rivers have their way.

I've read that Vienna is continuing to lose to its own waterways, and attempts to minimize the damage by creating this elaborate underwater system of adaptable blockades to protect the city from the nearby ocean will cost a lot of money and ultimately just barely postpone the inevitable - it's not wise to fool mother nature.

Efforts to revitalize and preserve New Orleans will eventually lead to similar defeat. Levies that protect a city which continues to sink as sea levels continue to rise means its inhabitants are living in a bowl.

"I had an argument this morning with my Rice Krispies!" - George Carlin
posted by ZachsMind at 4:00 PM on November 9, 2007

Vienna, or Venice? Vienna's pretty far from the ocean.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:24 PM on November 9, 2007

posted by cortex at 4:51 PM on November 9, 2007

Nature abhors a culvert
posted by Flashman at 6:59 PM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

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