The new subterranean warfare technologies can exploit man-made underground passages as well as natural, pre-existing caves, crevices, underground waterways, and tunnels, minimizing the use of active drilling/digging/explosives wherever possible.
Leveraging both natural and artificial pre-existing subterranean pathways where possible usually reduces the risk and resource consumption of a mission in several ways. Full utilization of such natural byways requires something of an amphibious, rock crawling/climbing, and perhaps at times even flying force.
There's considerable natural underground passage potential worldwide.
USAmerica alone possessed 40,000 known caves as of 1988. 360,000 others (which offer no openings to the surface for access by explorers) are also estimated to exist. Although most caves tend to extend horizontally rather than vertically [Cave, page 332, McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Second Edition, McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1989, 1984] some known caves of the world extend as far as 500 km underground. These numbers do not include the vastly greater number of channels and pockets too small for human beings to traverse, even if they could reach them. Many or perhaps most of these rocky voids in the Earth are filled and connected via flows of water or air, including various chemical gas and fluid mixtures. This continuum of gas and fluid flow may be virtually unbroken for enormous distances-- perhaps even globally in some cases.
-- LIVING STALACTITES! SUBTERRANEAN LIFE! From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #57, MAY-JUN 1988 by William R. Corliss, citing George Dupont; "Et Si les Stalactites Etaient Vivantes?" Science et Vie, p. 86, August 1987. Cr. C. Mauge and John R. Holsinger; "Troglogbites: The Evolution of Cave-Dwelling Organisms," American Scientist, 76:147, 1988
If the Earth's entire crust (150 km or so) is permeated with saltwater, this would explain much about its various measured seismic and electrical characteristics. Some believe the lower crust water is affiliated with a wide ranging layer of crystallized surfaces, while in the upper crust it is mostly found in isolated pockets. Subterranean liquid water has been verified via drill sampling to as deep as 12 km.
-- WATER, WATER: HOW FAR DOWN? From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #48, NOV-DEC 1986 by William R. Corliss, citing D. Ian Gough; "Seismic Reflectors, Conductivity, Water and Stress in the Continental Crust," Nature, 323:143, 1986, and Bruce W.D. Yardley; "Is There Water in the Deep Continental Crust?" Nature, 323:111, 1986
In a 7.5 km deep drill hole in Germany fluid-filled subterranean voids of various sizes were found along almost the entire length of the shaft.
-- THE KTB (Kontinentales Tiefbohrprogramm der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) HOLE From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #90, NOV-DEC 1993 by William R. Corliss, citing Richard A. Kerr; "Looking---Deeply--- into the Earth's Crust in Europe," Science, 261:295, 1993
Note that in many cases the easiest natural subterranean pathways might be under or alongside above-ground rivers, as such terrain features often have parallel below ground analogs.
A significant portion of the crevicular continuum includes the underground analogs of surface rivers and streams, which may extend at minimum 30 feet below river bottoms and for miles to either side of the visible surface expression.
-- REALLY-DEEP RIVERS From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies #67, JAN-FEB 1990 by William R. Corliss, citing "Life-Filled Subterranean World Found Flowing under Rivers," San Francisco Chronicle, November 24, 1989. Cr. J. Covey
Fortunately, since people tend to build towns and camps at, near, or along such water sources, this increases the chance that suitable natural paths for subterranean excursions will exist at or near where military or intelligence forces would want them.
This also serves to minimize any active digging or drilling that might be required from such a force to reach its desired positions. Note that active digging or drilling at least sometimes produces noise or vibrations or other emissions which could be detected by enemies. In the case of subterranean devices which emit lots of noise or other signs of their travel, various distractions can be necessary both above and below ground to keep the enemy from full realization of what's happening.
Note that by using underground waterways for at least part of its navigational path, such forces can move into great positions to manipulate the water supplies of enemies too, if desired.
Much like space exploitation of this period, it's most cost-effective and least risky to use small robots for many subterranean treks at this time. Lengthy, train-like snake bots can haul considerable amounts of fuel, explosives, food, and dismantled equipment like weapons through natural crevices men themselves might not make it through.
|-- Underground Rivers, Springs Are Not The 'Pipes' They Appear To Be; ScienceDaily Magazine; Source: University Of Florida (http://www.ufl.edu) Contact: Steve Orlando , phone: 352-392-0186; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Date:11/24/99; Writer: Aaron Hoover Source: Jon Martin, (352) 392-6219, email@example.com http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991123164337.htm|
Small robots exhibiting some of the characteristics desirable for subterranean military forces already existed and were in use in various arenas around 2000.
One example was an on-person computer-in-a-belt which could be re-purposed by the wearer as a robotic snake for various probing and reconnaisance duties. Via of Northfield, Minnesota was the creator of the device.
|-- Slithery computer; New Scientist magazine, 24 June 2000|
As mentioned elsewhere, lengthy exploration of underground rivers and similar environs was already being performed by some non-military folks for a variety of reasons, using special equipment, decades before.
Moving human beings via subterranean means is considerably more difficult and costly compared to using robots which are more flexible in size and shape. A human's size means fewer natural channels of transport, and thus more digging/drilling activity is typically required.
Subterranean soldiers of the 2030s are usually equipped like so:
* A computerized visor display offer the personnel a realtime visual image of their environment based on advanced sonar and/or radar devices on their person and/or robotic aids. Note that sonar based vision works passably well in both dry (ie: bats) and aquatic (ie: dolphins) subterranean environments. No external light whatsoever is required for such a display to function. The apparatus can be tuned to present minimal opportunity for aboveground detection by all but the most advanced instruments.
* A fully enclosed suit and head gear with its own integrated heating and cooling system. Subterranean environments may be either wet or dry, cold or hot. This suit and head gear must be tough but also not add much bulk to the wearer. The choice of materials determines if the suit is also highly resistant to knives or small caliber arms fire, and shrapnel. The suits and related equipment must also be resistant to the corrosive effects some underground environments will present.
* Robust, high capacity underwater rebreathing gear; note again many subterranean passages will be submerged, and even those that weren't might not offer breathable air to soldiers.
The breathing gear is one of the most sophistocated elements of the soldier's equipment, in that it must be capable of automatically adapting to the environment encountered. For instance, when breathable air was encountered, it could feed that to its wearer. When there wasn't, it would feed its own recycled supply to the wearer. This adaptibility helps maximize a soldier's range and safe mission time. The best equipment of this time may also exploit tainted air without harming the host. However, the soldier retains the option to manually override the equipment's air choice at times-- especially in the older versions.
Homemade wearable rebreathing equipment circa 1987 appeared capable of allowing up to 48 hours continuous submergence for divers. Of course, such capacities shrink substantially for men in stressful, high exertion situations. But still it proved far superior to traditional scuba gear of the time. Plus, today, wherever mission vehicles are available for storage of more consumables and larger recycling systems, the rebreathing apparatus is substantially scaled up in capacities.
Of course, the very best rebreathing systems today incorporate devices capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen on the fly, providing for near indefinite stays underwater-- so long as power supplies don't run out.
|-- To Breathe Like a Fish By Kathy A. Svitil; DISCOVER Vol. 21 No. 7 (July 2000); WEB SITES INCLUDE http://www.nwdesigns.com/rebreathers and http://www.cis-lunar.com|
Supplementary breathing technologies for greater depths include the possible use of perfluorocarbons.
Perfluorocarbons can serve as a safe way to deliver oxygen to users in a liquid medium.
The underwater adaptation help could come from equalizing the enormous pressures at subterranean depths, in both our bodies and our vehicles used there-- as illustrated in the film "The Abyss".
Perfluorocarbons are clear, transparent, odorless fluids that are denser than both water and most other bodily fluids. They are inert biologically, volatile in air, don't mix with water, but readily absorb and release the oxygen and carbon dioxide that are essential to the human respiratory process.
|-- "MEDICINE: Breath of Fresh Liquid; Saving the sick by flooding their lungs", by W. Wayt Gibbs in San Francisco, found on the web on or about 1-14-99 and "Doctors turn fantasy into fact with liquid-filled lungs" by Roger Dobson, August 29 1999, The Sunday Times: Innovation: Medicine, http://www.sunday-times.co.uk, Times Newspapers Ltd.|
*Adapted rock climbing, hiking, and camping gear also a necessity.
* Mobile robotic aids and scouts; each soldier should have at least one, which can serve as a third hand or simple fixed-in-place clamp for various purposes, or to probe ahead to determine a best route, or go back for help from comrades, or act as message runners between team members or the team and their supporting resources to the rear. Such mobile aids can also transport, place, and arm explosives for the team if so ordered. Likewise with surveillance devices. These robots should possess their own independent power supply and propulsion means, and be no larger than a man's head. The smaller the better, for many purposes.
* Great systems redundancy: soldiers must feel especially confident of their systems and procedures for subterranean missions, as these will be even more strenuous than submarine missions are for their crews. There must be backup systems and plans available in case of any critical equipment failure or unanticipated change in plans. Certain chemical aids (drugs) might be necessary to allow men to perform at their best in such scenarios. Advanced contingencies might include an incapacitated soldier being sedated and cooled via his suit to a hybrid stasis state for easier transport back to medical aid, and enhanced chance of recovery [such stasis was in early R&D stages circa 2001].
* Mission plans and preparations should include frequent rest areas along the mission route, as well as a safe harbour/first aid/resupply store as close behind the team as possible for contingency purposes.
As mentioned before, moving large vehicles containing multiple personnel via underground means is a considerable challenge even today, compared to the other alternatives described. It's also the most difficult to surprise enemies with, as it may often generate considerably more warning signs than the other methods, including initial deployments necessarily being much closer to the target objective than other tactics require.
However, in urban war theaters, as well as highly developed military and intelligence installations around the world, substantial artificial underground infrastructures will already exist, offering such SAPCs certain opportunities, if only they can reach them. Add to those man-made routes the likelihood of at least one or two natural channels in the vicinity which might be modified to serve as an entry point to the artificial tunnels, and you get a chance for SAPCs to shine. Such SAPCs could be used to bring in troops and equipment, as well as evacuate civilians and hostages, all underground.
SAPCs however require much more sophistocation than their above ground cousins. For instance, they often need to encompass the functionality of a small manned submarine, as well as a land crawling vehicle. They also require the air recycling and fuel cell power of a spacecraft (or better). Articulated arms or special undercarriages capable of flipping the vehicle right side up again after a spill, and bridging devices to help it cross chasms are also needed in some cases. If they are expected to make their own way through large amounts of solid rock they either have to be part subway tunnel drill, or have a separate specialized digging vehicle precede them in some missions. And the power required for such drilling is considerable; enough to perhaps require a small nuclear reactor to enable the process.
Add to all this the need for the SAPC to be a war machine too-- to have some capacity to defend itself from anti-armor threats, as well as move rapidly enough to escape those threats it can't successfully meet, both in the open and underground.
In surface vehicles many of the functions listed above could be divided up into separate and specialized vehicles. But this isn't always an option for subterranean craft. Underground caravans of specialized vehicles will often encounter the unexpected, which will easily doom or at least threaten the entire caravan or mission. For instance, the forward tunneling vehicle might break into an underground river which sweeps it away to parts unknown, while inundating the rest of the train. Suddenly the the mission has lost its lead, and at least some crews are drowning, if not all of the manned vehicles possess submarine capabilities. Lots of different scenarios could be created where multiple specialized vehicles would fail, but one multi-purpose vehicle might presevere.
A potential goldmine of SAPC-related technologies?
By 2005 much of Australia's subterranean mining operations are expected to be automated via robots. Some of the robots used will be "giant" machines, with some operating autonomously, and others via remote control. The robots will be 'aware' of their environments via sensory arrays, including their exact geographic positions in realtime. They will also map their environment even as they change it.
There's apparently a whole array of specialized robots being created for these operations. Many of them sound very much like what the military forces of the 2030s might want to include in their subterranean armored personnel carrier support, either as-is, or after certain modifications (such as scaling down in size).
-- Robots To Invade Australia's Mines; ScienceDaily Magazine ; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000522081404.htm; Source:CSIRO Australia (http://www.csiro.au); http://www.csiro.au/page.asp?type=mediaRelease&id=MinerRobot; Both the dates 5/23/2000 and 5-4-2000 are associated with this piece; potential contacts include Dr Bruce Hobbs of CSIRO
OTHER POSSIBLY RELEVANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR SUBTERRANEAN OPERATIONS:
A low frequency sound system like the US navy used for secure submarine communications prior to 2001 may work as well for subterranean forces, especially wherever geomagnetics or other conditions interfere with conventional radio transmissions.
Some sort of acoustic/seismic signalling system may be useful for subterranean missions, if and where more standard radio transmission failed or was undesireable. Such systems work very well in aquatic environments (over ranges of hundreds of miles), and are used for communications by cetaceans (dolphins, whales). They are also apparently used for low frequency communications via the ground medium by elephants on the surface, with effective ranges up to 20 miles. Other land animals may use such a system too.
-- Elephants pick up good vibrations - through their feet; 9 MARCH 2001; EurekAlert! Contact: Mark Shwartz firstname.lastname@example.org 650-723-9296 Stanford University, and Caitlin E. O`Connell-Rodwell email@example.com 650-498-7246 Center for Conservation Biology and Department of Pediatrics; Relevant Web URLs: http://asa.aip.org/jasa.html http://www.stanford.edu/group/CCB/index.htm http://www.iwwn.com.na/namtour/northern.html#etosha
-- Foot-stomping elephants communicate seismically - study; ABC News/Reuters; 2001
-- Elephants put trunk calls on hold by David Montgomery; The Scotsman Online; 14th March 2001
Of course, in many cases such missions could be wholly or largely autonomous, without need of communication with the surface or remote controllers.
But subterranean missions would still require accurate and reliable means of determining their location, and navigating a course (I'm assuming here, perhaps wrongly, that GPS would not often be easily available).
If low frequency sound systems were suitable for some such missions, 'signal buoys' emitting such waves at or near suitable milestones for the mission aboveground (or at the bottom of lakes or rivers) could be positioned to help guide the underground forces.
Changes in the Earth's magnetic field or atmospheric pressure might give some clues for navigation. Soil, rock, or water temperatures and compositions might as well.
Power sources for such underground machines and related devices would likely need to be substantial and relatively long-lived, even where the missions had little need for active digging or drilling. Small turbines running off liquid fuels of some sort, or even nuclear-power sources, look to be required.
Such missions might especially require nuclear power sources if commanders wished to add active drilling, digging, and cutting capabilities to full-scale SAPC missions. Possession of nuclear power sources would also enhance the offensive weapons potential of such vehicles, as well as add a nuclear powered self destruct contingency to the vehicle's capacities if desired.
Where subterranean robots could be made small enough, acoustic drilling and/or earth moving might be an effective manner of dynamic movement for them underground.
Rock cutting/drilling mechanisms for subterranean missions would have to be designed to operate in a variety of environments, including prolonged submersion in saltwater, freshwater, and a variety of underground gases and minerals.
One option might be new piezoelectric ultra-sonic drills-- especially for small, robotic subterranean probes (I'm unsure how far up in size they might successfully scale).
|-- NASA Develops A Drill For The Future; ScienceDaily Magazine; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000414081101.htm; Source:NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov); Date: 4/14/2000; http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/2000/ultrasonicdrill.html; http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov|
Another possibility might be laser drilling. Experiments are underway now in this field.
|-- DOE Fossil Energy: Special Feature on Laser Drilling; February 26, 2001; Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy firstname.lastname@example.org|
Snake-like subterranean robots might utilize counter-rotating pairs of stubby exterior vanes for propulsion in the watery routes. Counter-rotating pairs would keep the craft stable-- without counter-rotation there'd be torque or twisting problems to deal with. Suitable vane designs could not only propel through water, but perhaps even help propel through certain densities of soil (at lower gearing of course).
So how might military forces survey or map out natural voids and channels in the Earth to optimize their future use of them? Australian sub-surface radar (SSR) looks like one possibility.
-- Aussie radar detects the invisible; 24 APRIL 2001 Contact: Jason Major email@example.com 61-2-6276-6058 CSIRO; EurekAlert!
Borrowing from some of the techniques presently being used to see through the Sun acoustically might also help.
-- Satellite 'Sees' Through Sun to New Solar Storms; Yahoo!/Reuters; March 9, 2000; project SOHO by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency
Everything exhibits thermal energy vibrations. These may be detected passively and analyzed to see the interiors of objects, large and small.
-- Random noise from within objects reveals their internal structure; 1-Nov-2001; Contact: James E. Kloeppel; firstname.lastname@example.org; 217-244-1073; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; research funded by The National Science Foundation.
The reliability of machined parts for military equipment involved in subterranean missions might be as important or more so than that of undersea or space missions. A new technique called "superfinish hard machining" may help improve that reliability to the point that some items may never require replacement.
-- New Math Method Adds To Likelihood Of Super-Reliable Metal Parts Web; 8/18/99; ScienceDaily; http://www.sciencedaily.com//releases/1999/08/990817064702.htm; Source: Purdue University; research funded by the National Science Foundation