Help me learn about man-made land
November 7, 2008 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for books on how engineers turn water into land. For instance, big parts of Boston and Chicago are built on landfill and Dubai is creating some seriously crazy islands. I'm looking for a book that takes a general approach to discussing how this is done.
posted by Xalf to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
not a book, but today's nyt had an article on this very point . . .
posted by deejay jaydee at 12:17 PM on November 7, 2008

Polderlands by Paul Wagret seems to be a reference.
posted by Jaloux Saboteur at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2008

If it helps, this practice falls under the heading of land reclamation, which is divided between irrigation of arid land, and the drying of formerly wet land.
posted by Good Brain at 1:04 PM on November 7, 2008

Response by poster: JS, I was hoping for something more recent and less Netherlands specific. Designed for Dry Feet: Flood Protection and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands by Robert Hoeksema looks like it could satisfy the first part of my hope, but not the second.

DJ, that article was one of the reasons I was thinking about this.

And GB/MDT, thanks for the keywords. Maybe I'll end up answering my own question.
posted by Xalf at 1:13 PM on November 7, 2008

The concept is very simple.

1) Excavate large quantities of rock from one location; dig a subway for example.
2) Dump the rock in a pile in the water that you want to turn in to land.
3) Continue until the top of the pile is sufficiently above water and has the area you require.
4) Level off with smaller rocks, etc; aka "clean fill".
5) Add topsoil as needed and pour slabs/dig holes for foundations.

I can't recommend a book, but Discovery and National Geographic air a few shows that cover this on a regular basis.
posted by ChazB at 1:36 PM on November 7, 2008

When you choose the site for your new dominion, don't forget about the prospect of liquefaction.
posted by strawberryviagra at 2:09 PM on November 7, 2008

I'm sure that methods of land reclamation have changed through developments in technique and engineering. Here's a book that sheds light on how they did it in Boston back then:
Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston / Nancy S. Seasholes

You might be able to find additional case studies looking at Singapore, Hong Kong, as well as Dubai, as you have mentioned.
posted by spoons at 2:11 PM on November 7, 2008

Best answer: My understanding is that a great advantage in Dubai is that there aren't any environmental laws to deal with.

Engineering For Land Drainage, 1903
Land Draining, 1907
The Underdraining of Farmland in England During the Nineteenth Century, 1986
Building, Developing, and Managing Dredged Material Islands for Bird Habitats, 1986
Design of Habitat Restoration Using Dredged Material at Bodkin Island, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, 1992
Drawing Louisiana's New Map: Addressing Land Loss in Coastal Louisiana, 2006
Uses for Marine Mattresses in Coastal Engineering, 2006
American Society of Civil Engineers: Artificial Islands

One place I've always thought would be great to create an artificial Dr. Evil island paradise citadel is the Saint Peter and Paul Rocks in the middle of the Atlantic.
posted by XMLicious at 7:25 PM on November 7, 2008

Osaka International airport was a recent landfill project.

cursory overview
google books result
posted by troy at 8:08 PM on November 7, 2008

Land reclamation isn't all Dr. Evil and isolated airports.

You might also be interested in Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast (c. 2000; author interview post-Katrina). While part travelogue, the beginning of the book is spent explaining how much of Louisiana is being lost to the Gulf of Mexico, how rapidly it's happening, and why this is a Really Big Deal.

The middle to end of the book covers ongoing projects (surprisingly small-scale) to slow the subsidence, and the proposals that have been around since the 1960s to take more drastic measures to save the Louisiana coastline. You know, that one that didn't buffet the recent hurricanes, etc. It's not highly technical, but covers a variety of options, their obstacles, and effects.
posted by whatzit at 8:32 PM on November 7, 2008

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