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Why This Japanese Underwater City Will Be The Coolest Place To Live

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Why This Japanese Underwater City Will Be The Coolest Place To Live
One of the more fascinating visions of the future is the idea of living in undersea cities. They would be situated under the ocean, sometimes miles beneath the surface, in an environment that is just as beautiful – and as deadly – as any moon or planet in the solar system.

While explorers and scientists have been living in underwater habitats for decades, the notion of an entirely self-sufficient community on the ocean floor has been stymied by a lack of funding and a lack of interest.

According to News Cult (1), a visionary Japanese company called Shimizu Corporation hopes to change all that and create the first underwater town ever to be built. Japan, which has limited land and a growing population, would be an ideal country to start settling the oceans. All it needs is 16 billion Euros and 15 years to found a community of five thousand people beneath the waves.

The city would consist of a 500-meter sphere, where the people would live and work, an “ocean spiral” that would reach down nine miles deep, and an “earth factory” that would harvest energy from the ocean floor.

The city would extract carbon dioxide and refine it into methane to run its generators. It would supplement this energy source using a process called ocean thermal energy conversion (2), which uses the temperature difference between deeper, colder water and higher warmer water to turn generators.

Self-Sustaining Community

A desalination plant would be installed to convert ocean salt water into the drinkable kind. Presumably food would be grown in greenhouses or harvested from the surrounding ocean. Indeed, an undersea city would prove to be a base for “fish ranching,” taking fish in a sustainable way, repopulating the stock from incubated eggs as needed.

Besides allowing people to live in a self-sustaining manner, the question arises what would be the purpose of an undersea community that would justify the great expense of creating it. To be sure, it could serve as a base for scientists, exploring the underwater world as never before. But there also has to be an economic reason for such a city to exist.

A piece in the BBC (3) suggests that an underwater city could serve as a base for ocean mining. The World Ocean Review suggests that the sea floor is a treasure trove of just about every valuable mineral imaginable. “These include diamonds off the coasts of South Africa and Namibia as well as deposits of tin, titanium and gold along the shores of Africa, Asia and South America.” (4)

Manganese nodules, consisting of iron and magnesium, are of great interest to potential underwater miners. Other possible sources of wealth include methane ice and even ocean floor oil and gas drilling.


Science Fiction or Reality?

Most analysts who have looked into the possibility of ocean floor mining envision such operations being conducted by robots. But, an underwater community could make such an operation more efficient and thus less expensive. The cost of extracting such minerals is an important enough matter to make ocean floor mining cost competitive.

Tourism would be another industry that an underwater town would serve. What better travel experience could there be than to visit a resort that is under the ocean? Diving and tours in small submarines would just be two of the activities that would be available at such a resort. Every room would have a window, reinforced to resist the pressure of the ocean depth, which would provide some of the most spectacular views on the planet.

The prospect of living under the ocean has been the stuff of science fiction for many years. It may well be that, at last, science fiction will become reality.

References & Image Credits:
(1) News Cult
(2) Wikipedia: Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
(3) BBC
(4) World Ocean Review
(5) Shimz

Originally published on

  • David

    Unless I am mistaken, doesn’t Japan have a few earthquakes here and there that could cause some inconvenience to anyone living on the seafloor? And, of course, there is the problem of Godzilla…

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