How to find undiscovered island?
April 1, 2006 9:41 AM   Subscribe

In this day and age, are there any chances of finding a previously undiscovered island? Even if it is really very small? If so, where would my best chances be if I wanted to sail around and take a look?
posted by aletheia to Science & Nature (15 answers total)
Two words: Satellite photography and/or topography. I'd say about nil.
posted by SpecialK at 9:45 AM on April 1, 2006

Undiscovered, or unvisited?

Plenty of possibly unvisited islands out there, although it's hard to know for sure about any given one.
posted by tkolar at 9:57 AM on April 1, 2006

Unvisited is really what I meant. :)
posted by aletheia at 10:05 AM on April 1, 2006

Your chances of discovering an undiscovered island just by sailing around randomly until you run aground are close to nil. It's a big wet world. :)

But you could increase your chances by pouring over satellite footage. Probably your best bet would be somewhere in the high north or high south latitudes, because, obviously, that's where nobody goes. Of course you wouldn't want to go there anyway, though.

Somewhere out in the middle of the ocean maybe there's a mysterious magic island like in Lost The Tempest but probably not.

In any case, you'd need to change your definition of 'undiscovered', because as has already been pointed out, we've pretty much got photography of the entire surface of the globe (right?) and somewhere, somebody must have written an algorithm to go and find all land masses and index them.

Even before that, there are indigenous people who have done their fair share of exploring and colonizing. They've probably been almost everywhere.

But, they're finding uncharted areas all the time, still, and I bet it would be really fun to set foot somewhere that nobody else has in centuries. If you find the lost continent, please post a follow up thread!
posted by Hildago at 10:18 AM on April 1, 2006

When I read alethia's question, I wondered about the islands in the so-called ring of fire area of the Pacific - lots of volcanic activity, with islands appearing (or disappearing) with nearly each new seismic movement.

Mind you, these would not be the best seas to travel on. And these new islands would be barren, unhospitable, and generally unsuitable for a visit (let alone getting to them)
posted by seawallrunner at 11:01 AM on April 1, 2006

This new island should have cooled enough to walk on by now.
posted by Lanark at 11:01 AM on April 1, 2006

Two more sources of "new" islands: As global sea levels rise, islands that were previously a single mass will turn into more smaller islands. These islands will be "new," but previously known. As the ice sheets melt in Greenland and Antarctica, previously covered islands will become visible.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:10 PM on April 1, 2006

I would say yes, if you keep your standards modest. Would you accept an island that has been unvisited by any living person? How about land that is emerging from the water such as where streams meet a lake? How about around the edges of where a glacier or icecap is melting? Perhaps you could take a shoal and make your own island. One time in Sausalito, I saw an old barge that had been completely planted over and made into a private floating island. If you keep it small, I'd say it's possible.
posted by Ken McE at 1:18 PM on April 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you have no means of knowing that an island has been visited before then it effectively hasn't. My guess is that most islands would fall into this category.
posted by rongorongo at 2:33 PM on April 1, 2006

Side question: How would one go about owning an island, say , in international waters?
posted by devilsbrigade at 5:04 PM on April 1, 2006

Maybe Lake Vostok or one of its recently discovered neighbors has an undiscovered island. An island was discovered in Vostok only a year ago.
posted by landtuna at 5:05 PM on April 1, 2006

Side question: How would one go about owning an island, say , in international waters?

In international waters? Land on it and be able to defend it from all comers.

Shouldn't be too much a problem if it's away from the major sea lanes. If you're someplace that has any remotely strategic value, however, you can expect the U.S. Navy to come calling. (it's up to you, but I'd let them in)
posted by tkolar at 5:26 PM on April 1, 2006

In these days of global warming, melting ice cover might reveal a previously unsuspected island.
posted by richg at 12:02 AM on April 2, 2006

If you found this island you would be the first.
posted by azuma at 12:12 AM on April 3, 2006

Sorry, this island
posted by azuma at 12:15 AM on April 3, 2006

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