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Thread: Buliding underground cities - scenario for nuclear war?

  1. #1 Buliding underground cities - scenario for nuclear war? 
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    Often some people claim that SDI project supported by Ronald Reagan in 1983 was fortunate attempt to wage exhausting arm's race on USSR and to break it economically. Even though the very project is very doubtful from technical point of view and could be counteracted with much cheaper projects. In the same time neither USA or USSR (from what is publically known) never attempted the most obvious and technically realistic way to protect themselves from nuclear missiles and exhaust opponent economically - building huge underground cities. The cities which would be able to host entire population for a couple of months or years or even indefinite period of time. They could be build on depth of few hundreds of meters or few kilometers. If you have some reliable energy source such as nuclear power you could grow vegetation even underground with help of powerful lamps. Obviously the country which would be able the most technologically advanced cities with more supplies would be winner in this arm's race. They would got invulnerability against nuclear strike and could dictate conditions to opponents.


    Last edited by Stanley514; August 4th, 2013 at 11:36 AM.
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  3. #2  
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    Me and my fellow mole people have already built ourselves elaborate cities underneath your feet.


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  4. #3  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    The cities which would be able to host entire population for a couple of months or years or even indefinite period of time. They could be build on depth of few hundreds of meters or few kilometers. If you have some reliable energy source such as nuclear power you could grow vegetation even underground with help of powerful lamps. Obviously the country which would be able the most technologically advanced cities with more supplies would be winner in this arm's race. They would got invulnerability against nuclear strike and could dictate conditions to opponents.
    One or two problems:
    How many people could you house underground?
    How many people would be able to reach those sites in time of emergency?
    Winning a purely defensive arms race doesn't win you anything unfortunately.
    For invulnerability against nukes you'd need phenomenally deep sites. Repeated strikes would get through 1. Or, using intelligence, strikes on the entrances would prevent anyone getting out - not helpful for post-war recovery.

    This may list other problems.


    1 From memory my subterranean duty station in the event of sunshine coming over by the bucketful was expected to move by ~50 feet if a megatonne sized impact occurred within a mile. Any closer than that and we'd be written off.
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  5. #4  
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    How many people could you house underground?
    Entire population of a country. Why not?
    How many people would be able to reach those sites in time of emergency?
    Principally you could build underground cities under already existing or within quick reach, but I do not assume that they would be designed for immediate evacuation (within minutes or hours). Nuclear wars do not start completely unpredictable. If one side experience political stalemate with the other and the war seem to be unavoidable sooner or later, they could start evacuation in entire population in underground cities just after they would be build.
    Winning a purely defensive arms race doesn't win you anything unfortunately.
    Winning defensive race doesn't mean self-refusal from nuclear weapon. For example we have two countries - Eurasia and Ostasia in political stalemate and war seem to be unavoidable. If Eurasia is more technologically powerful and have higher labour productivity and more resources then they could build cities which contain few time more supplies than Ostasia. It means that after nuclear strikes exchange they would be able to stay and survive in their underground cities for a few times longer time. If their enemies will run out of supplies and resources more quickly they would be enforced either to starve or ask for peace and surrender. Obviously such strategy brings more advantages to country which is more technologically and economically developed. To build systems of perfect ventilation and water supplies, hydroponic farms which grow vegetation under projectors, underground power plants, etc will require lot of expertise and money. It would be a game changer in comparison to simple nuclear missiles quantity arms race which could be played more on-even from side of not very economically developed countries or even rough states.
    For invulnerability against nukes you'd need phenomenally deep sites.
    Why not? Modern coal or gold mines could go for a many kilometers deep and people are still capable work and survive there. If nuclear missile will explode simply on the ground surface, do you think it will be able to shatter powerful structures few hundreds of metres or a kilometer deep? I have doubts in it.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Entire population of a country. Why not?
    Economically?
    Feasibly?

    Principally you could build underground cities under already existing or within quick reach, but I do not assume that they would be designed for immediate evacuation (within minutes or hours). Nuclear wars do not start completely unpredictable. If one side experience political stalemate with the other and the war seem to be unavoidable sooner or later, they could start evacuation in entire population in underground cities just after they would be build.
    Yeah.
    So either you have people leaving it until the last second (because it's gonna kick off right now and they're needed above ground) or you have people going underground early and wrecking the economy.

    Winning defensive race doesn't mean self-refusal from nuclear weapon.
    I never said it did.
    It's just that you don't win by not taking the "offensive". A purely passive defense is exactly that - passive. You're siiting back and letting the other guy take the initiative.

    It means that after nuclear strikes exchange they would be able to stay and survive in their underground cities for a few times longer time.
    And here you're missing the point.
    Sure, entire cities underground give you (maybe) survivability 1 - but no one seriously expected a nuclear war to start. Ergo passive measures do help with regard to the balance of power.

    Why not? Modern coal or gold mines could go for a many kilometers deep and people are still capable work and survive there. If nuclear missile will explode simply on the ground surface, do you think it will be able to shatter powerful structures few hundreds of metres or a kilometer deep? I have doubts in it.
    Oops. Point missed again.
    How long did it take to dig those mines (and how much actual room is there?)
    How much did it cost to dig them? (Bearing in mind that they were dug to extract commercially-usable material).

    1 Of course "survivability" may not be the actual word when all it's doing is letting people live long enough to come back up to a devstated irradiated mess where all the infrastructure is f*cked.
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  7. #6  
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    see raven rock
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  8. #7  
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    How long did it take to dig those mines (and how much actual room is there?)
    How much did it cost to dig them?
    The project may take couple of decades. If we take in account that they already built huge subway systems under many cities which could host huge number of people simultaneously and huge and deep coal and salt mines the project doesn't seem to be completely unbelievable.
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    I don't see how the Elder Scrolls has any relevance here.
    Of course, were you less lazy, and had bothered to give a link, you may have meant this Raven Rock.
    You're referring to a limited occupancy (large, possibly, but not city large), military communications base of unspecified cost because its relevance is...?
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    The project may take couple of decades.
    QED.
    If the threat of war isn't that serious then underground cities aren't required.
    If it IS serious then you haven't got a "couple of decades".
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  11. #10  
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    duck:
    as/re site r---raven rock---designed to withstand 3 direct nuclear hits.
    could hold a small town atleast 5000 maybe 10kpeople for several months to 3 years.
    at todays costs, likely about 2 million dollars per person.

    The thing is silly
    if we have another world war, the nuclear part may be the nicest part.
    Is there one country that has enough excess money to build a trillion dollar city for a million people?
    If usa, then what about the other 300+ millions?
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  12. #11  
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    So they build a underground city. Everyone including the "enemy" knows of where it is located so the "enemy" just sends a nuke down the shaft where this underground city is and then no one can ever get into it or out of it if the "enemy" waits until everyone has already entered before sending in a strike.

    That said this seems to be a waste of money and time.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    designed to withstand 3 direct nuclear hits.
    Just for the sake of pedantry... source for that please.
    Size of said hits?
    And bear in mind that it's built as a military base - therefore the internal structure will NOT be conducive to housing massed civilians.

    could hold a small town atleast 5000 maybe 10kpeople for several months to 3 years.
    See preceding comment.

    at todays costs, likely about 2 million dollars per person.
    Source please.

    The thing is silly
    if we have another world war, the nuclear part may be the nicest part.
    Is there one country that has enough excess money to build a trillion dollar city for a million people?
    If usa, then what about the other 300+ millions?
    IOW you're arguing my POV?
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  14. #13  
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    I worked there
    as/re: nucs---designed in early 50s, so smaller nucs

    costs are estimates--
    much was classified "need to know"
    ................
    don't believe what is written on the web about the place
    much is silly stuff made up by the ignorant
    ...........................
    many people cannot live underground in a confined space(it makes 'em go nuts)
    up to 1/2(?) the people assigned there left within a few weeks
    ...
    cost effective-----------if it is ever needed, then yes---- otherwise? kinda like paying for insurance
    cost effective for civilians---what's a life worth?
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    I worked there
    K.

    as/re: nucs---designed in early 50s, so smaller nucs
    Bwahaha.
    How does that specify size?
    The first ever ICBM - which happened to be Soviet - had a 3 megaton warhead. They tended to go for large warheads in order to offset the poor CEP.
    Plus the fact no one in their right minds builds such complexes to handle what is available now. They estimate the likely future threat and build for that.

    costs are estimates--
    Okay.

    many people cannot live underground in a confined space(it makes 'em go nuts)
    up to 1/2(?) the people assigned there left within a few weeks
    ...
    cost effective-----------if it is ever needed, then yes---- otherwise? kinda like paying for insurance
    cost effective for civilians---what's a life worth?
    Back to supporting my argument again?
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  16. #15  
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    kinda depends on what your arguement is duck
    you spend so much time counterpunching
    it's difficult to know what exactly you are argueing for.

    as/re yield most likely designed for 3(3.8 to 6 megaton) strikes
    again-classified "need to know"
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    kinda depends on what your arguement is duck
    you spend so much time counterpunching
    it's difficult to know what exactly you are argueing for.
    You haven't read the thread?
    I'm arguing that building underground cities as protection for the populace is unfeasible: militarily, economically and socially.

    as/re yield most likely designed for 3(3.8 to 6 megaton) strikes
    again-classified "need to know"
    IOW a guess.
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  18. #17  
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    Local shelters and population dispersal would be far cheaper--which is why this was in large part the response plan through the Cold War.
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  19. #18  
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    well then, yes
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Local shelters and population dispersal would be far cheaper--which is why this was in large part the response plan through the Cold War.
    That was as much a "psychological placebo" as anything though, wasn't it?
    It gave the public the impression that "measures were in place" when the hard reality was that the expected effectiveness of those measures was very limited.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Local shelters and population dispersal would be far cheaper--which is why this was in large part the response plan through the Cold War.
    That was as much a "psychological placebo" as anything though, wasn't it?
    It gave the public the impression that "measures were in place" when the hard reality was that the expected effectiveness of those measures was very limited.
    I don't think so. Given some warning it would worked pretty well given it was a limited strike. In an all out attack, with broad regional and even global severe consequences, we all would have been screwed anyhow. Limited Nuclear wars, though still rather appalling by our modern standards quite survivable for a trained population.
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  23. #22  
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    In the 50s, the technique taught in schools was 'duck and cover'. If you saw the nuclear flash, you were to bend over, put your head under your desk and between your knees, and kiss your ass goodbye.
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  24. #23  
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    could hold a small town atleast 5000 maybe 10kpeople for several months to 3 years.
    at todays costs, likely about 2 million dollars per person.
    I do not think that at mass scale and designed for common people rather than military commandment it would cost so much. I do not know exactly but I think that underground facilities which already have been built by people such as metro and mines could already host huge number of people, maybe entire population of some countries. And it didn't come at some unthinkable price. Even if they create some solid steel anti-seismic structures within such facilities and equip them with life protection systems it would not cost more than 100-300 K per person certainly. Quite affordable price for a developed country within couple of decades.
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  25. #24  
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    With everyone living underground (360 million people? rriigghhtt...) Where does the food come from?

    but I think that underground facilities which already have been built by people such as metro and mines could already host huge number of people,

    Have you ever been on the New York City subway system?
    Its the way nature is!
    If you dont like it, go somewhere else....
    To another universe, where the rules are simpler
    Philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy
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  26. #25  
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    Annually humanity extracts 7.6 billions of metric tons of coal. Not counting any other minerals.
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  27. #26  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Often some people claim that Star Wars project supported by Ronald Reagan in 1983 was fortunate attempt to wage exhausting arm's race on USSR and to break it economically. Even though the very project is very doubtful from technical point of view and could be counteracted with much cheaper projects. In the same time neither USA or USSR (from what is publically known) never attempted the most obvious and technically realistic way to protect themselves from nuclear missiles and exhaust opponent economically - building huge underground cities. The cities which would be able to host entire population for a couple of months or years or even indefinite period of time. They could be build on depth of few hundreds of meters or few kilometers. If you have some reliable energy source such as nuclear power you could grow vegetation even underground with help of powerful lamps. Obviously the country which would be able the most technologically advanced cities with more supplies would be winner in this arm's race. They would got invulnerability against nuclear strike and could dictate conditions to opponents.
    How deep ungerground would such things need to be for instance such underground "cities" like the one in montreal would be as bad as on the street.
    "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error; but who does strive to do deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexG View Post
    In the 50s, the technique taught in schools was 'duck and cover'. If you saw the nuclear flash, you were to bend over, put your head under your desk and between your knees, and kiss your ass goodbye.
    The programs were MUCH more extensive, including education about how to build shelters, where to go and how to recognize shelters, whole city drills to evacuate them etc.

    I remember the classes from the 70s, most of us teenagers could tell details about likely targets nearby, the projected yield that might be used against them, fallout patterns in different weather conditions once they were hit, and where the closest shelters were in our rather rural community.

    Here's a pretty summary of Nebraska's programs....and most states had similar programs. NebraskaStudies.Org
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  29. #28  
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    You've got to figure the people building the shelters aren't planning to bring the whole population down there. Just the "important" people. However, those people would go from living in mansions to living in squallor. Not a very attractive outcome.

    The reason to have them is so the enemy doesn't get it into their head that they can ignite mutual destruction, while putting a few of their own people underground, and then come out later and conquer the world that way. They know that we'll be putting some of our own people underground too, who will also be coming out later to stop that (horrendous) strategy from working.

    As for likely locations, the easiest places to build underground cities would be existing mines that have run dry. Just go down there and fortify them better so they're safe to live in. Maybe expand them a bit too.
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