Bonneville Seabase

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Jamie
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Bonneville Seabase

Post by Jamie » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:51 am

My post yesterday about the Biosphere2 project and facility got me thinking about my studies on enclosed ecosystems while living in UT, and another cool place that I did research at/about/for was the Bonneville Seabase:

http://www.seabase.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It is basically a hot spring in the desert between Salt Lake City, UT, and Wendover, NV. The owners found that the water came out of the ground at between 70-85 degrees, and with approximately the same slainity and mineral content as the ocean; so they excavated a number of ponds and filled it with sealife. The sea life does well in the ponds and people can go swimming/diving in them year around (I went snorkeling there in mid-winter).

During the course of my studies, I worked with the owners on the issue of algal blooms in their ponds, and we came up with oysters and mussels as a possible solution. My thinking was that the intense sunlight in the area, coupled with the warm and nutrient filled water yields a perfect environment for the growth of algae, and filter-feeding shellfish might be a solution, which could also feed some of the inhabitants of the ponds.

The seabase has stuck with me through the years, both as a cool place, and as an example of making the most of a situation...taking a hot and salty spring and finding a way to make a living from it is cool enough...if you could find a way to feed yourself as well that would be awesome...I assume that the hot water could also be distilled into freshwater using a greenhouse of some sort and evaporation...

There are ponds around me that have hot and cold springs within them, which are neat, and sometimes make for good fishing spots...but beyond that, I haven't been able to come up with an idea of how to make use of them in self-sufficiency terms...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY-U3NOYYQE" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; - a video of some of the life in the seabase

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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by rhi » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:11 am

Jamie,

The Bonneville Seabase is fascinating. I never knew it existed. Thanks for the link. Slightly OT, but how do they maintain the salinity ? In arid conditions, I'd think the water would evaporate off and leave the salts behind, leading to increasing salinity and eventual death of the sea life.

Back OT...are any of the ponds close enough to you where you could put together some type of heat exchange system and use the cold springs for cooling your place in the summer ?
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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by Jamie » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:17 am

rhi wrote:Jamie,

The Bonneville Seabase is fascinating. I never knew it existed. Thanks for the link. Slightly OT, but how do they maintain the salinity ? In arid conditions, I'd think the water would evaporate off and leave the salts behind, leading to increasing salinity and eventual death of the sea life.

Back OT...are any of the ponds close enough to you where you could put together some type of heat exchange system and use the cold springs for cooling your place in the summer ?
The flow-rate is high enough that it comes in at various points in the pond setup, and flows out and onto the desert at the far end, so the water is not in the system long wnough for evaporation to affect the salinity much...

I think that the only use that I can currently make of the springs is to take advantge of the fatc that they keep the ice open (or very thin) during the winter, making it easier to get water if needed...I do want to try and dig out a spring box to try as a low-tech refrigerator this summer...


Jamie

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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by dogbane » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:30 am

Did the oysters and mussels work to curb the algae?
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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by rhi » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:30 am

Using it for refrigeration sounds like a great idea. In case of a power interruption during the summer, at least you'd have another option for saving some of the food in your 'fridge.
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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by Leethal » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:07 pm

Wow, that's awesome. I'd never heard of it, but I'd love to dive it.
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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by Jamie » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:13 pm

dogbane wrote:Did the oysters and mussels work to curb the algae?
We moved away from UT before they had implemented the plan...it should have worked...I think...
Leethal wrote:Wow, that's awesome. I'd never heard of it, but I'd love to dive it.
It was weird and awesome to go snorkeling in the middle of the desert, in the middle of winter...they have a greenhouse over one of the biggest ponds, but I explored the other ponds as well, and just got my back a little chilly, but it was too cool for words...based on my observations, they could have harvested enough freshwater for drinking purposes by trapping the condensation on the inside of the greenhouse over the big pond...

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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by EvilTOJ » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:24 am

That's amazing. I grew up in Utah and I never heard of such a place. When did they build it?
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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by HossDelgado » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:38 pm

I live in Utah but i've never even heard about it. I'm going to have to visit it one of these days... Thanks for the post by the way.

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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by herbalpagan » Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:37 pm

doesn't Iceland use their geothermal hot springs to heat their homes and water?
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Re: Bonneville Seabase

Post by AeSix » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:24 pm

Yeah Icelandic geothermal technologies rock.

I would think that you could claim fresh water from the greenhouse as well as occasionally re-direct some of the flow to another greenhouse to be de-watered to leave the salts and minerals. There is a guy in Maine who does that with the ocean water and sells the salt. That's a bit off topic, however it really isn't. If you can make salt in the middle of the desert, you can use the salt to save meats as well as cook with (or sell / trade).

If the water and air temperatures have enough of a difference, a Stirling engine can be used to generate electricity or rotational power to operate other devices. It takes a surprisingly little thermal difference to make one operate, though the horse power is affected.

Other ideas for using a hot spring for self sustainability would include the life in it. There are technologies to create clean (editable) algae. This can be used and refined to make bio-diesels (though I'm not sure about the exact method, or it would be feasible) I have also heard of an algae wine, which if *can* be done, would provide an alcohol source, either for drinking or disinfecting uses. I'm sure with time (after all the world has pretty much ended, so you'll have time) things can be done with the algae.

There are plenty of plants which can be grown in a salty environment, and plenty of which can be eaten safely. I wonder if those hot springs could support any kind of editable seaweeds? These would provide a good food source which can be re-grown plentiful enough to support a small family, or with some work even used for trade.

There are also plenty of trees which can be grown on salt water shores. These can be used for shade, firewood, and possibly wood for tools, weapons and furniture. I live in Florida, on the coast. There are plenty of mangrove trees. I've personally (albeit illegally) used the seeds as arrow heads. I've also seen mangrove furniture, where the thinner branches were used like rattan. I'm sure there are other trees which can be used in similar ways.

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