Previous in Forum: Science, Paradigm Shifts, and Reality   Next in Forum: Possible Engineering Solutions to Atmospheric Warming
Close
Close
Close
65 comments
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661

Panama Canal...What If?

12/14/2007 3:19 PM

If all the lock gates were opened...what would be the global impact ???

That would be one big wave to ride??? How big a hole would it rip through Central America...what would happen to sea levels?

Discus in not more than 500 worms.

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Power-User
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Safety - Hazmat - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 125
Good Answers: 1
#1

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/14/2007 3:39 PM

Oh Gawd!

What have you read about the Panama Canal's locks?

============

There was a "Peacemaker", no, "Plowshare" proposal for the

use of nukes to make a SEA LEVEL passage thru ?NIcaragua?? if I recall.

Use a search engine.

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#2

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/14/2007 3:40 PM

"Discus in not more than 500 worms."

Bird talk? ;-)

Well, if it did happen there would be a lot of surfing capitals that would suffer when Panama becomes the world HQ for surfing!

Register to Reply
2
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - Old Salt Hobbies - CNC - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Rosedale, Maryland USA
Posts: 5198
Good Answers: 266
#3

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/14/2007 3:51 PM

The canal raise ships from both oceans to man made lakes. Then back down again. All that would happen is the lakes would drain. The elevation of the land is still higher than both oceans it would obstruct the flow.

What I wonder is if any one has look in to a canal that would let the Pacific flow thru into the Atlantic for the generation of Hydro-Electric Power.

__________________
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty, pristine body but rather to come sliding in sideways, all used up and exclaiming, "Wow, what a ride!"
Register to Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#6
In reply to #3

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/14/2007 5:00 PM

Yeh...but no but

I mean if a waterway was cut through......

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - HAM Radio - New Member United Kingdom - Big Ben - New Member Fans of Old Computers - Altair 8800 - New Member Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Toronto
Posts: 3968
Good Answers: 119
#8
In reply to #6

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/14/2007 10:48 PM

You maroon, if a waterway was cut all the way across, South America would drift into the Pacific

__________________
Per Ardua Ad Astra
Register to Reply Score 2 for Off Topic
4
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - Scapolie, new member.

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1058
Good Answers: 8
#14
In reply to #6

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/15/2007 5:26 AM

Hi Del.

This is a very interesting question actually, because there are differences of sea level at both ends of the Panama canal. Travelling from the Atlantic side you start to climb up until you reach the Gatun lake, then you have to be raised to the level of the Gailliard cutting. But from then on you start to drop downhill until you reach the Pacific, in fact you drop down more that you were raised up on the Atlantic side, because the Pacific side is lower that the Atlantic side. I have travelled through the Panama canal 14 times during my years as a marine engineer, and they have a notice about this discrepency in Panama city.

Spencer.

Register to Reply Good Answer (Score 4)
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#15
In reply to #14

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/15/2007 5:29 AM

Ah yes ..if I think about the rotation of the Earth I'd expect the Atlantic side to be higher, as the water tries to stay still it should pile up on the Atlantic seaboard.

Yeh ..If we think we have messed up the climate now.... Just think what we might do if we opened up that waterway???

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 295
Good Answers: 4
#23
In reply to #14

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/15/2007 1:39 PM

Do you remember the difference in elevation? I have not found that info on google.

Register to Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Here, there and everywhere...
Posts: 61
#64
In reply to #14

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/20/2007 9:40 AM

...and I bet you saved the table scraps to feed the mules..!

__________________
An EXPERT is a 'has been', that is a drip under pressure - My Boss
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - Old Salt Hobbies - CNC - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Rosedale, Maryland USA
Posts: 5198
Good Answers: 266
#18
In reply to #6

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/15/2007 7:26 AM

Long long long time ago it was. Continental drift has brought the North and South American continents together. The world didn't come to and end then.

Are you sure you are not looking for a way to reduce your foggy nights. Sure would reduce the temperature of the golf stream as the waters of the golf poured through.

__________________
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty, pristine body but rather to come sliding in sideways, all used up and exclaiming, "Wow, what a ride!"
Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#36
In reply to #18

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/17/2007 4:48 AM

<Long long long time ago it was. Continental drift has brought the North and South American continents together.>

It was about 1.0 x 106 years ago. Even with 9 lives, Del probably wasn't around then.

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Anonymous Poster
#9
In reply to #3

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/14/2007 11:42 PM

Many years ago there was a proposal of a sealevel canal possibility, I believe through Costa Rica. But I think the Panama canal repatriation added too many questions.

Rich

Register to Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Brecksville, OH
Posts: 1604
Good Answers: 18
#22
In reply to #3

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/15/2007 11:48 AM

Unless the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are at different sea levels (???), where is the differnce in elevation needed to generate power?

__________________
"Consensus Science got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" : Rephrase of Will Rogers Comment
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1818
Good Answers: 7
#26
In reply to #3

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/15/2007 5:09 PM

This means that the water in the lakes has to be either pumped there or collected from othger sources, i.e. mountain streams or something. Otherwise where would the water come from for the ships to sail through in this man made canal?

I don't think the lakes are man made at all, they were there to start with.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 940
Good Answers: 28
#30
In reply to #26

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/15/2007 10:04 PM

The lake is replenished by the local rain forests. Because of atmospheric changes as a result of El Nino and La Nina, the necessary rains are of concern.

__________________
Nothing exceeds like excess.
Register to Reply
Power-User
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Safety - Hazmat - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 125
Good Answers: 1
#4

Re: Panama canal...what if?

12/14/2007 4:00 PM

ONE of the things that happens is a very damaging intermix of species.

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Hearts of Oak Popular Science - Paleontology - New Member Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2005
Location: In the Garden
Posts: 3390
Good Answers: 75
#5

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/14/2007 4:47 PM

Discus in not more than 500 worms.

You must be a Dawn Patroller!!

S <- here's the one you dropped

__________________
Chaos always wins because it's better organised.
Register to Reply
Power-User
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Safety - Hazmat - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 125
Good Answers: 1
#7

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/14/2007 8:12 PM

iS THAT THE SAME AS A rOBIN? OOPS damn caps lock

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Hearts of Oak Popular Science - Paleontology - New Member Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2005
Location: In the Garden
Posts: 3390
Good Answers: 75
#20
In reply to #7

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 8:45 AM

An international club - kinda!

The bending of worms (words) is one of the signs.

__________________
Chaos always wins because it's better organised.
Register to Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: KnoxTN
Posts: 1485
Good Answers: 6
#10

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/14/2007 11:43 PM

"If all the lock gates were opened...what would be the global impact ???"

Not much for a short time period. If permanent it would have considerable impact on shipping.

"That would be one big wave to ride??? How big a hole would it rip through Central America...what would happen to sea levels?"

Not much more than a small tidal wave.

The high point of the canal is about 65 feet above mean sea level. No big flood from one ocean to the other.

14 Spillway Gates OnGatun Dam Spillway Are Key!

__________________
Do Nothing Simply When a Way Can be Found to Make it Complex and Wonderful
Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Popular Science - Biology - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member APIX Pilot Plant Design Project - Member - New Member Hobbies - CNC - New Member Fans of Old Computers - ZX-81 - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Centurion, South Africa
Posts: 3921
Good Answers: 97
#11

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 12:16 AM

Lets say we increase the size and opened it up.

Warmer water from the gulf would flow through.

The additional warm water could fuel El Nino.

To replace the lost water more water will have to flow down (north sea) and up from the south.

possible effects.

Florida and other gulf states will experience a drop in temperature. Surfers will be smaller.

the weather in Europe and Africa will drop.

My biggest fear is El Nino and more droughts in SA & Australia.

Darwin's islands - Animals will evolve with temperature control.

(or birth control)

__________________
Never do today what you can put of until tomorrow - Student motto
Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Power-User

Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 295
Good Answers: 4
#12

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 12:21 AM

Is the water on the Pacific side the same height as the Atlantic side. Are there gravity or coreolis affects or currents that would cause one side to be higher than the other. If it was cut straight through without locks raising ships up to the lakes, which way would the water flow?

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#13
In reply to #12

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 4:54 AM

Yeh...you get my drift...

The sea level is higher on the Pacific side (I think it's that way round)...

I DO mean if the canal was cut straight through. (I forgot the up/down bit in the middle...hmm I've had that complaint before)

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4485
Good Answers: 245
#28
In reply to #13

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 6:20 PM

Sea level always increases from east to west. That is why boats can coast when going eastward. in a kayak, one can coast from US to Europe on the down slope, but must paddle furiously when coming back. That is just one reason that many Americans are overweight, and many Swedes are in robust health. Americans are (unfairly) thought to be bad navigators, because they get lost at sea -- but really it has to do with getting pulled out to sea. In Europe, it is very hard to get far enough from shore to get lost.

__________________
There is more to life than just eating mice.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: 30°30'N, 97°45'W, Elv: 597 ft.
Posts: 2411
Good Answers: 10
#29
In reply to #28

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 9:58 PM

That reminds me of this guy, years ago, that was trying to convince me that because of a birds internal navigation system that they could not fly across the equator. He said that they had to land and then walk or swim across so not to fall out of the sky.

I think he was trying to pull my leg, but he was such a moron otherwise that I never was quite sure.

__________________
I never apologize. I'm sorry that's just the way I am.
Register to Reply
Guru
Philippines - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - Who am I?

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Philippines
Posts: 2075
Good Answers: 51
#16

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 5:38 AM

If the canal was cut straight through, there would be no need for locks and shipping traffic through the canal would be faster. Travel between the Pacific and Antlantic Oceans would be shorter.

Dell, you've just found a way for shipping to save money...no wait, Panama would have toll gates at both entrances...darn it!

__________________
Miscommunication: when what people heard you say differs from what you said. Make yourself understood.
Register to Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Rockwell,North Carolina
Posts: 211
Good Answers: 1
#17

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 6:14 AM

Difference in sea level, What about the curvature of the earth? How would that fit into it since it is about 50 miles across Panama at this point?

__________________
1.1 billion people do not have safe drinking water
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1818
Good Answers: 7
#19

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 7:33 AM

Hi Del,

You have been reading the newspapers again, haven't you? What part of the Darwin story was so boring that you went on and did a fact finding mission on Panama?

Anyway, I don't think anything serious would happen globally but it would on a smaller scale locally. I think the rushing water will carve the land away until the water speed drops significantly that it gently flows from one end to the other. By that time you have very little Panama left and created a new stream that has, as yet, no name. It will dramatically increase the flood plains of Gatun lake or , if it has not got flood planes, it will make them into flood planes. See here.

It might however cause a conflicting stream of warm water to disrupt the equatorial counter flows. This could have an effect on global weather but I am not sure, me only have small brain.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: 30°30'N, 97°45'W, Elv: 597 ft.
Posts: 2411
Good Answers: 10
#21
In reply to #19

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 9:26 AM

but I am not sure, me only have small brain .

Does it look like this....here?

That is a very interesting point about the temp. I am going to research a bit. But knee jerk response is that there really could be some significant weather manipulaton as a result of increasing/decreasing the amount of warm/cold water. I actually am very intrigued by this statement and it's implications. I see a thread beginning here.

cr3

__________________
I never apologize. I'm sorry that's just the way I am.
Register to Reply
Anonymous Poster
#24

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 4:05 PM

Doesn't need many worms.

Basically you would drain a lake via two rivers.

Globally no large physical impact.

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#25
In reply to #24

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 4:35 PM

see #6 and #13...

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Surrey BC Canada
Posts: 1571
Good Answers: 40
#27

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/15/2007 6:04 PM

I wouldn't bet on surfing.

I googled this:

Dear Cecil:

Would one ocean pour into the other if the locks on the Panama Canal were blown? If not, let's say a mile-deep trench were dug from coast to coast. Would there be flooding then, huh? --Eliot R., Los Angeles

Dear Eliot:

No, you mollusk. They don't have locks on the Panama Canal because one ocean is higher than the other, they have them because the land is higher in the middle--85 feet higher, to be exact. As I have explained in the past, the level of the sea is more or less uniform throughout the world, making the concept of "sea level" possible.

But that's not to say you wouldn't get any flow from one ocean to the other if somebody dug your "mile-deep trench" from coast to coast. Scientists studying the feasibility of a sea-level canal (not a mile deep, but deep enough) have found that the Pacific at Panama is about eight inches higher than the Atlantic on average due to currents and such. In addition, tidal variation on the Pacific side of Panama is much greater than on the Atlantic side--20 feet vs. 1 foot.

That means the Pacific would flow into the Atlantic through the sea-level canal, producing currents that could reach nearly 6 MPH. While that wouldn't cause flooding, it would definitely complicate navigation.

But that's the least of the problems a sea-level canal would present. It would also allow Pacific and Atlantic marine species to mingle, with unpredictable but probably bad consequences for the environment. Worse, constructing it would require either (1) tens of billions of dollars or (2) nuclear explosives. So don't expect it any time soon.

--CECIL ADAMS

Register to Reply Score 1 for Off Topic
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#31
In reply to #27

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/16/2007 4:14 AM

CECIL ADAMS is obviously a fool, worse than that, an arrogant fool.

One only has to take a cursory look at the globe to realise that the American continent is a virtual block to any East west flow of water. There are plenty of precedents for sea level not being constant..one only needs to think of tides and the surges which occur down the East coast of Britain.

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#32
In reply to #31

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/16/2007 4:19 AM

On continuing to read past CECIL's fatuous 'molusc' insult he proceeds to explain how he is actually wrong... what an ass.

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1818
Good Answers: 7
#33
In reply to #32

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/16/2007 5:21 AM

Do you mean the "Eoore" type donkey ass or the American spelled version of a rectal sphincter?

Just curious

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Surrey BC Canada
Posts: 1571
Good Answers: 40
#43
In reply to #32

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 12:49 PM

I doubt that even a 17 foot tidal difference over a canal (couple hundred feet wide and a couple hundred feet deep?) 77km long, probably with quite a few bends would allow any significant flow rates. The slope for "drainage" does not appear to be very great, say, 6m/77000m. It would appear to me the problem would be having enough flow to prevent silting and vegetation growing.

The last time I checked, ALL oceans of the world were connected. They are not isolated lakes at different elevations. The Pacific is connected to the Atlantic at both the northern and southern poles. The Atlantic connects to the Mediterranean through a natural canal. etc.

Perhaps an hydraulic engineer could do a sample calculation for such a canal design and calculate the actual flow rates.

In places like the Bay of Fundy where there actually is a tidal bore it is of no real consequence to shipping.

On the west coast of Canada there is the large Fraser River. As the tide goes up and down 10 or so feet the "inrush" of water from the ocean is a total disappointment. The river rises, then subsides. I think the same applies to the Thames in England.

The biological cross contamination is already occurring. An open channel would undoubtedly aggravate that.

I think EE's are out of their field of expertise and simply pontificating.

Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#44
In reply to #43

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 1:14 PM

The last time I checked, ALL oceans of the world were connected.

Your point being?

Does that mean you don't believe in tides, or the sea level differential across panama or the surges in the North sea driven by Northerly winds on top of a high tide?

Unless water had zero ineria and zero viscosity the connectedness is pretty irrelevant. The Americas reach from about 55o South up to 70o odd degrees North. That's a pretty serious block to the natural currents which would flow around an uninterruped ocean.

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Surrey BC Canada
Posts: 1571
Good Answers: 40
#62
In reply to #44

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/19/2007 2:35 PM

My point is, a small head of 3 meters over 77000 meters and a relatively narrow canal will not create significant flows. The friction loss in the channel I believe would be a dominant factor. (or .039 mm per meter, your desk is probably not that level!). The total head with flow restrictions are just not significant.

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#63
In reply to #62

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/19/2007 2:38 PM

Fair enough....

(Maybe I can get some power of my desk top ? )

Cheers

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 940
Good Answers: 28
#48
In reply to #43

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 12:24 AM

The best bet would be to build a dam/spillway near the western end and build multiple huge pipelines from the east end filling a lake behind the dam. Even so, the drop is 17' at best. Not a lot of energy for the effort depending on how long a dam and how many turbines. Take cost of maintenance into account and off the top of my head it gets real iffy. Hoover Dam has a 420' average drop, 17 turbines, and produces 2,080 megawatts. Compared to it, a Panama project seems like a joke.

__________________
Nothing exceeds like excess.
Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - Scapolie, new member.

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1058
Good Answers: 8
#34
In reply to #31

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/16/2007 5:29 AM

Good morning Del.

I spent last evening reading about the history of the Panama canal!!!

de lessops wanted to dispence with lock gates in his original design for the Panama canal, but an English surveyor pointed out to him that there was a large tidal difference between the Atlantic and the Pacific side of the Panama isthmus?

This amounted to 16ft higher on the Atlantic side after his calculations at the time, now it has been calculated that the actual tidal difference is 17ft. This difference occurs for only 5 or 6 hours twice every day. If there were no lock gates there would be a massive tidal surge akin to the severn bore, only much higher.

Spencer.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1818
Good Answers: 7
#35
In reply to #34

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/16/2007 6:12 AM

I like this severn bore better

Not as high but way more fun.

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - Scapolie, new member.

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1058
Good Answers: 8
#37
In reply to #35

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 5:14 AM

Yes, you could drown yourself in pints there!!!

Spencer.

Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 18
Good Answers: 1
#38
In reply to #34

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 10:34 AM

Good morning Del.

I spent last evening reading about the history of the Panama canal!!!

de lessops wanted to dispence with lock gates in his original design for the Panama canal, but an English surveyor pointed out to him that there was a large tidal difference between the Atlantic and the Pacific side of the Panama isthmus?

This amounted to 16ft higher on the Atlantic side after his calculations at the time, now it has been calculated that the actual tidal difference is 17ft. This difference occurs for only 5 or 6 hours twice every day. If there were no lock gates there would be a massive tidal surge akin to the severn bore, only much higher.

Spencer.

.... hmmm very interesting, Now if you could get some turbines in that canal, and utilize the potential energy involved in elevations between the two bodies of water, I'd think one could generate quite a bit of electricity! But, would doing so slow the rotation of the earth?

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#39
In reply to #38

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 10:40 AM

<But, would doing so slow the rotation of the earth? >

"Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."?

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: 30°30'N, 97°45'W, Elv: 597 ft.
Posts: 2411
Good Answers: 10
#40
In reply to #38

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 11:56 AM

.. hmmm very interesting, Now if you could get some turbines in that canal, and utilize the potential energy involved in elevations between the two bodies of water, I'd think one could generate quite a bit of electricity!

Now that's a good idea.

__________________
I never apologize. I'm sorry that's just the way I am.
Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#41
In reply to #40

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 12:13 PM

Ah. There's a problem.

The purpose of the canal is to provide a transport route for vessels 'twixt the Pacific and Atlantic oceans without the long and hazardous detour via the tip of South America. In order to achieve that, a series of locks has had to be built to raise and lower the vessels. Ship velocity in a canal has to be low, partly to give the ship an opportunity to manoeuvre, partly to keep 'wash' down, and partly so it can make some headway. So the water velocity has to be low as well.

In order to harness the difference in levels between the oceans, some form of water conduit needs to be provided where velocities can be high enough to turn turbines. Therefore the conduit used would need to be something other than that required for shipping. At the moment the canal tonnage is about 3.5 times over its original design capacity!

Note that in order for locks to work, water has to go downhill, so there's already some gravity-based energy in the water already in the locking system available: 202,000m3 per vessel, times 40 vessels per day, each way, times the average height difference between Gatun Lake and mean sea level!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 18
Good Answers: 1
#42
In reply to #41

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 12:42 PM

So, is it the water transferred from the "moving up" locks into the lake that keeps the lake level up? Otherwise, I'd think that the lake level would eventually drop. Or I guess it probably rains enough tropical central america to keep the levels up.

Now, drilling a tunnel from one side of the isthmus to the other, and using the tide differential to drive some turbines, that's a possibility! I mean, hey, they dug a pair of them from Jolly ol' England over to France, right? All it takes is $$$.

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#51
In reply to #42

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 7:28 AM

<So, is it the water transferred from the "moving up" locks into the lake that keeps the lake level up?>

No. The water always passes downhill. The lake's level is kept up by collected rainwater. Back-pumping, i.e. the mechanical pumping of water from a lower level to an upper one past a lock chamber, is done on some canals in times of low rainfall.

<Now, drilling a tunnel from one side of the isthmus to the other, and using the tide differential to drive some turbines, that's a possibility!>

It needs to be a different conduit to the one that passes ships. The velocity in the ship conduit needs to be kept low to effect navigation, whereas for power generation, it would need to be high to maximise energy capture. One couldn't use one conduit for both facilities.

<I mean, hey, they dug a pair of them from Jolly ol' England over to France, right?>

Actually there are three tunnels. The outer two pass trains and the centre one is a service, emergency and pressure-balancing facility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Tunnel

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: 30°30'N, 97°45'W, Elv: 597 ft.
Posts: 2411
Good Answers: 10
#45
In reply to #41

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 2:41 PM

So it is not practical to have the up and down displacement to flow through pipes? I think it very practical. Even if it were a closed system where just the up and down hydraulics formed the pressure to vacuum reciprocation to drive a wheel and make E


(thank you Google Sketchup)

__________________
I never apologize. I'm sorry that's just the way I am.
Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#52
In reply to #45

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 7:31 AM

It is possible, though impractical, as it would slow the draining and filling of locks, and therefore reduce the carrying capacity of the canal. It is already operating at 3.5 times its original design tonnage!

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru
Philippines - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - Who am I?

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Philippines
Posts: 2075
Good Answers: 51
#47
In reply to #38

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 9:22 PM

How about a siphon?

'Should be enough to drive a turbine.

This is a brainstorm idea. Further research is required.

__________________
Miscommunication: when what people heard you say differs from what you said. Make yourself understood.
Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#53
In reply to #47

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 8:44 AM

Yes, provided its summit was less than 32ft or so above the lowest sea level. Temperature needs to be taken into account -

  • Say sea temperature of 30degC → Steam Tables → vapour pressure of water is 0.042 bar.
  • 1.013 bara - 0.042 Bara = 0.971 bara to support a water column at 30degC.
  • Say 30degC → Steam Tables → density of water = 957kg/m3
  • pressure = density x gravity x height → height = 97100N/m2 / 957kg/m3 / 9.81m/s2 = 10.3m, x 39.37in/m / 12in/ft = 33.9ft.

OK, near enough. What about tidal variations between oceans?

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Philippines - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - Who am I?

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Philippines
Posts: 2075
Good Answers: 51
#60
In reply to #53

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 7:26 PM

What about tidal variations between oceans?

Ah, I'd need to research about that.

Is the difference constant? 'don't think so. Is there any point in time where the tide levels reverse? I don't know. If it doesn't reverse, how low is the lowest difference?

I'll have to check for those.

I suddenly remembered last night that I saw this same principle used. It was an episode in Discovery Channel or National Geographic and it was in Israel, where they layed a large pipe from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea (which is below sea level). The siphon effect drove turbines to provide power. I don't know what became of it. They projected that the Dead Sea's level would rise somewhat but still stay below sea level.

__________________
Miscommunication: when what people heard you say differs from what you said. Make yourself understood.
Register to Reply
Power-User
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Safety - Hazmat - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 125
Good Answers: 1
#46

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/17/2007 5:28 PM

Were such a channel dug out,

it still would have at least two gates

to minimize current effects on traffic.

The tide differential between the atlantic and pacific sides

arises mainly from the shape of the ground near the shore.

I doubt whether the average flow rate thru the channel

could be harvested , realistically, as an energy source.

"Giant underwater turbines in the Gulf stream", however,

IS viable..

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - Scapolie, new member.

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1058
Good Answers: 8
#49
In reply to #46

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 4:38 AM

"Giant underwater turbines placed in the Gulf stream would be viable"!

My friend, if you were to do that then I am afraid that people living in the northern parts of the UK and Norway etc, would freeze!!!

This is what would happen: If the Gulf stream has XXX amount of energy in it, and you extract X amount via the turbines, then the result would be that the Gulf stream beyond the turbines would only have XX amount of energy left in it.

This would be devastating to the ecology of both the UK and Norway.

Spencer.

Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 940
Good Answers: 28
#54
In reply to #49

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 8:47 AM

Locate a similar water stream that flows to the Arctic or Antarctic and solve two problems at once. Sort of like "water conditioning".

Or place them off the west coast of Africa and eliminate hurricanes.

Or, or...

(I can't think I'm serious.)

__________________
Nothing exceeds like excess.
Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#56
In reply to #49

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 3:10 PM

Bravo...Exactly the sort of points I was trying to make people think about....

Once a chanel was cut ..would it carve itself out a bigger and bigger?...and what would happen to the currents we rely on.

PS..It's the North Atlantic Drift once it get s across to us...not the gulf stream...this is a common missconception...albeit mere pedantry

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1818
Good Answers: 7
#57
In reply to #46

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 4:30 PM

I think the tidal difference will change from atlantic to pacific and back again at least twice per 24 hours.

Not?

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#50

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 7:17 AM

<If all the lock gates were opened...what would be the global impact ???>

The distance between the surface and the cill stone under the upper gates gives an idea of the deepest draught vessel that may pass any lock. The summit level at Panama, less the deepest draught, is still at a higher elevation than mean sea level in the area. So the effect would be pretty minimal. Lake GatĂșn would drain away and ships would have a much longer, more hazardous and more time-consuming journey around Cape Horn.

Locks provide a facility for a vessel to climb and descend hills. As well as the surface rising and falling at locks, so does the level of the invert. There would be no great rush of water from the Pacific to the Atlantic or vice versa, as the upper pounds aren't cut deeply enough for that to happen.

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30310
Good Answers: 817
#55
In reply to #50

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 8:48 AM

<....the upper pounds aren't cut deeply enough for that to happen...>

If they were, then there wouldn't be a need for all those wonderful locks, and Del wouldn't have a question to ask!

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Power-User
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Safety - Hazmat - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 125
Good Answers: 1
#58

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 5:11 PM

Given the energy contained in the gulf stream

there ain't no way there would be a measurable effect on the contained energy therein from a few thousand well place 200 foot diameter turbines.

Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#59
In reply to #58

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/18/2007 5:21 PM

Ah that's we thought about a bit of heavy industry shoving out CO2.

Some of these systems are in a pretty delicate balance. There is already concern about the circulation of hot & cold water up near the pole...the something or other conveyor, I believe it's called.

There is the posibility that some of these currents could switch like those fluid logic gates and then take hundreds of years to switch back....

If the Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift shifted it could have a huge effect.

Some good pics of the global current on this link.

Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Register to Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - Scapolie, new member.

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1058
Good Answers: 8
#61
In reply to #59

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/19/2007 7:40 AM

Hi Del.

Yes, I cannot understand that engineers cannot grasp the idea that if you take out of a well balanced nature without puting it back, then you will upset the balance of nature!!!

I have seen this happen time and time again, for example; If you harness the power of the waves, then the shoreline that they usually reach will suffer a huge amount of destruction!

Our planet is a finely tuned balance of nature, if we disrupt this we suffer the consequencies?

I once experienced this destruction at first hand; In the far north of Norway they drowned a huge valley, much to the consternation of the people living nearby, what happened after is now history! Many rare specis of plants disappeared forever, the insects and animals that were dependant on these plants have gone and the resulting huge lake created a micro climate not native to the area!

I wish mankind would grow up and realise that that the destuction of nature is the death of us all in the future!

I wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy new year.

Spencer.

Register to Reply
Power-User
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - Validation Specialist-Medical Devices United States - Member - From the Big Apple! Hobbies - Model Rocketry - Rockets should go nuclear! Fans of Old Computers - PDP 11 - Studied computers at W.H.Taft H.S., Bronx, NY. Popular Science - Cosmology - Radio Science Observing

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Miami, FL.
Posts: 304
#65

Re: Panama Canal...What If?

12/21/2007 11:10 PM

"…Sea level is about 20-40 cm higher on the Pacific side than the Atlantic due to the water being less dense on average on the Pacific side and due to the prevailing weather and ocean conditions (e.g. 1°C of global air temperature rise amounts to about 10 cm of thermal expansion of sea level) Such sea level differences are common across many short sections of land dividing ocean basins."

Dangers of the Lock Canal.; Gustav Lindenthal Wants a'Revision of ...

No one would have dreamed of taking and completing the Panama Canal if the ... that if the dams for the lock canal should break, the dam at Gamboa, ...

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9501E7D81731E733A25751C1A9629C946897D6CF

__________________
WARNING! All suggestions are informative only. It is the prerogative of the user to implement under his sole responsibility. This commentator will not be liable for any damages or injuries incurred.
Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Register to Reply 65 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

agua_doc (1); Anonymous Hero (1); Anonymous Poster (2); aurizon (1); Blink (1); case491 (5); Del the cat (10); English Rose (2); GW (3); Hendrik (1); I)AVI) (5); Jaguar (3); mixit (1); ozzb (2); PWSlack (8); ronald (1); rustyh2o (1); sail4evr (2); Scapolie (5); Stirling Stan (1); TexasCharley (4); Twangmaster (2); Vulcan (3)

Previous in Forum: Science, Paradigm Shifts, and Reality   Next in Forum: Possible Engineering Solutions to Atmospheric Warming

Advertisement