TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (5): 681-693.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002974

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Construction of Artificial Islands on Coral Reef in the South China Sea Islands

ZHAO Huanting1,3,WANG Liong2   

  1. (1.CAS Key Laboratory of Ocean and Marginal Sea Geology,South China Sea Institute of Oceanology,Guangzhou 510301,China; 2.Marine Engineering Center,South China Sea Institute of Oceanology,CAS,Guangzhou 510301,China; 3.Collaborative Innovation Center for the South China Sea Studies,Nanjing University,Nanjing 210023,China)
  • Online:2017-09-21 Published:2017-09-21

Abstract: Artificial islands construction has long history in China and other coastal countries, but artificial islands construction on coral reefs are very different because of the special geological landforms and sediments. The concept, development and trends of the construction of artificial islands are reviewed and the general situation of coral reefs in the South China Sea is introduced. The South China Sea Islands lies to the east and south of Hainan Island and is rich for abundant tropical marine resources, such as territorial resources, marine petroleum and gas resources, tourism resources, harbor and channel resources. Its geopolitics is complex and the strategic positions special. The South China Sea Islands has 62 drying reefs and 49 lime-sand islands which is theoretically suitable for the construction of artificial islands. In the past 40 years, several neighboring countries have forcibly occupied some islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands, illegally reclaimed lands and built military structures, and extensively explored in adjacent waters to plunder marine petroleum and gas resources. And now the South China Sea Islands faces the same and more serious political situation and it needs rapid and effective respond. The geological and topographical conditions suitable for the exploitation and construction on coral reefs in the South China Sea Islands are analyzed, such as shoals, islets, and drying reefs. The ecological environment conditions affecting the land reclaimed are also evaluated from the view of coral reef facies, which include the impacts of the exploitation and construction on the coral reef ecosystem and those of the resultant hydrodynamic changes in the coral reef landforms. The built and under-building artificial islands are given as examples. An emphasis on planning and site selection for the land reclamation on the coral reefs in the South China Sea Islands is proposed and the technical idea of “natural simulation” for engineering construction and for future sustainable development is produced.

Key words: the South China Sea Islands, coral reefs, artificial islands