"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pipeline Pics

If I were in charge of the way things are (hee hee),
I'd name the Alaska Pipeline the 8th Wonder of the World.
(I don't think there already is an 8th, is there? If so, I'd name it the 9th.)
It traverses over 3 mountain ranges, 30 major rivers and streams
and 3 major earthquake faults on its 800-mile journey from Prudoe Bay to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port.

It is designed to make minimal impact on the land and has underground refrigeration
and is buried whenever possible, at times up to 49 feet deep.

The oil takes 9 days to travel this distance at 3.7 mph.

The temperature of the oil at the injection point up in the Arctic is 114 degrees F
and it has cooled to 65 degrees at the terminal in Valdez.

Privately funded, it took just over 3 years to build.

It carries over 29,000 gallons of oil each minute!

The designing, building and maintaining of something of this magnitude
absolutely fascinates me!
(If you are bored with these facts--sorry.)
Just skip to these pictures we took as we followed the 400 miles of pipeline
from Fairbanks to the Valdez Terminal:

Crossing the Tanana River in Nenana,
the pipeline is supported by many cables.
We pulled over when we saw these tiny moving spots on said cables.

They turned out to be workers, suspended precariously over the water.

And this particular fellow was the highest of all.
The maintenance of such a working structure is daunting, to say the least.
A bit dizzy just from watching these men at such heights, we were thankful
to get back in the car, on the ground, and continue heading south.

If you bothered to read the facts in the beginning of this post,
you may recall the pipeline crossing 3 major fault lines.
In the case of an earthquake, engineers set up a unique set of skids under the
pipeline in these risk areas. The sections of pipe are shorter and the skids are like railroad tracks, permitting the flexibility to shake and shift without breaking.

Permafrost covers much of Alaska's land mass.
Even with so many insulative layers built into the pipeline,
the warm oil would thaw the ground and change the landscape forever.
This is precisely what the develops did not want to happen.
So, in areas of permafrost, the pipeline rises out of the earth
and travels above ground for as long as is necessary.
Jack is showing is one of these submerging places which happens to be buried,
not due to the permafrost...

but for the road to continue on its original path.
This is the scene from directly across the highway.
Do you see it emerging up from the grass a way back from the road?
Going up! Going down!

These posts are cooling posts and I won't try to explain them.
Suffice it to say that they take the warmth from oil traveling within
and provide external surface area to conduct cooling into the air.

The twists and turns and angles and depths are all part of the amazing
design that makes this pipeline so effective and fascinating.
Now, don't you agree that the Alaska pipeline is a Wonder of the World?

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