The Great Sahara Sea


“What could possibly go wrong?”

How would flooding arid sections of a desert with sea water make any sense? Wouldn’t the saline percentage get higher and higher with evaporation?

The Quattara depression was also a possible target of Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ program. There’s not a lot on it, but have a look at the bottom of the Wiki article…

Quoting from it…

In the seventies and early eighties several proposals to flood the area were made by Friedrich Bassler and the Joint Venture Qattara, a group of mainly German companies. They wanted to make use of peaceful nuclear explosions to construct a tunnel as it would drastically reduce construction costs compared to conventional methods. This project proposed to use 213 devices, with yields of 1 to 1.5 megatons detonated at depths of 100 to 500 metres (330 to 1,600 ft).

I wouldn’t want to go back to those days, ever, but there are some times when I feel a bit nostalgic for the days when engineers did a bit more than see what a million matcheads in a dustbin went up like.

[ exits, humming ‘Pinky and the Brain’ theme ]

It would depend on the resulting wind conditions(which would, of course, open up exciting new opportunities for unexpected things to go wrong); but ‘arid’ is not an immutable condition once you start considering a plan involving evaporation on that scale…

If things went excitingly wrong, the Saraha would turn into an apocalyptic saline hellscape, even as unprecedented rainfall crushed whoever was downwind. If not, seawater evaporation is, after all, the primary desalination mechanism on earth, so you could end up with a great deal of new fresh water raining down on the areas you haven’t flooded.

I have wondered if you couldn’t terraform Australia by digging a canal into a large shallow basin. Water evaporates out of the basin and (presumably) comes down as rain in what is currently desert. Make the basin lower than sea level and you can add in generators on the canal. It would be a massive project.

Terraform Australia, LOL!
But seriously, Australia has a gigantic underground sea, which reaches the surface in water holes that are all over the Outback. Being that it’s not saltwater, and I’m not saying it’s a good or bad idea, but from an engineering standpoint, maybe the place could be terraformed by pumping water and planting a gigaton of trees.

Plagues And Pleasures On The Salton Sea is a really good documentary on a bizarro corner of the Universe populated by characters worthy of a David Lynch movie. Fittingly, it’s narrated by a sympathetic John Waters.

“Terraform Australia, LOL!”

They could use the room. I think they’re ready for some real projects. Think of the street cred they’d get. And the farmland!

"But seriously, Australia has a gigantic underground sea, … maybe the place could be terraformed by pumping water…*

My thought specifically was that they get trade winds coming in from the south west. The winds come over very cool water so they don’t really pick up much moisture. Set up what amounts to a solar evaporator in the path of these winds and (if it’ll precipitate out someplace useful) you have something that runs by itself with very little maintenance.

The water holes & pumps method will give you individual farms, but you you can’t water entire counties that way. Also, the ocean is inexhaustible.

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