Archive for the 'Definitions' Category

Island Collector Seeks to Bag Rockall

Thursday, May 13th, 2010


A Scot known as Islandman has gained permission to visit, and sleep on, Rockall.

Rockall is the most isolated outpost of the British Isles, and is well northwest of Ireland. It strains the definition of island, as it is only 80 by 100 feet, and has almost no vegetation or even flat surfaces. No visits to the crag are recorded before 1810, and only four people are known to have slept there.

Islandman, also called Andy Strangeway, is an extreme island collector, and has slept on all Scottish islands of more than 40 hectares, and some 168 Scottish islands in all. On 94 of them, he was the only person sleeping on the island.

Perhaps a Dingo Ate My Geographical Sense

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Oceanic geography
Usually I am derided by Canadians who mistakenly think I’ve called Vancouver Island “Victoria Island.” Here’s a refreshing bit of abuse from the world’s smallest continent. Or is it the world’s second-largest island, after Antarctica? Who can say…

What a moronic website – please – Australia IS an ISLAND to display the logic of it is also a continent does not preclude it from being an Island – quite retarded. Secondly your presumption that the continent is Austalia and not even consider the reality that the continent is more aptly termed OCEANIA or AUSTRALASIA – but not even mention these facts as they contrast with your preconceived opinions. So under any definition Australia is an Island – is also a rock, a country, MAYBE a continent, a former colony, part of the commonwealth etc,etc,etc but NONE of these preclude it from being an ISLAND. Moron.

Incidentally, “Oceania” and “Australasia” are terms for regions that include Australia, not the continent of Australia itself.

In any case, thank you for the funny comment.

Continent or island, continued

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

A reader writes:

“I always thought that large land bodies that are joined in some way to each other is the reason they are called continents. Like the way North and South American are connected and Europe, Asia and Africa are also connected. I thought that is why there are only five rings on the Olympic flag. Each ring represents a continent and the World has only five. All the other land bodies are islands.”

This is not a definitively resolvable issue.

There are seven continents, or six, with the debate being whether the Americas are one or two. Europeans somewhat dubiously call them one. Geologically and biologically, they are two.

Australia is widely considered an island as well as a continent, but no one says that Antarctica is an island.

Connection is not part of the definition: the Americas have been continents for hundreds of millions of years, but have only been joined for a few million.

As my American Heritage Dictionary puts it, “Continent — one of the principal land masses of the earth, usually regarded as including Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.”

The Olympic rings are not continent-specific, though when created they represented the continents with nations competing (thus omitting Antarctica). According to an official Olympics site, “This flag translates the idea of the universality of the Olympic Movement. At least one of the colours of the rings, including the white background, can be found on the flag of every nation in the world. But watch out! It is wrong, therefore, to believe that each of the colours corresponds to a certain continent!”

Query: islands, peninsulas, and artificial islands

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

A reader had some questions:

“Where do we draw the line between island and peninsula with regard to man made structures?”

There is no clear line, as many parts of land have manmade water cutting them off.

“Prince Edward County on Lake Ontario was a peninsula, but did construction of the Murray Canal 100 years ago make it an island? (It has a couple of swing bridges over the canal and a high fixed bridge from Belleville, Ontario.)”

Probably not. Ratios are important, and the canal is very narrow compared to the peninsula. Indeed, it cannot even be discerned on this view that takes in the whole land mass.

“Prince Edward Island was connected by a long high bridge to the mainland 7 years ago. Should it be considered a peninsula?”

Bridges do not change the fact that an island is surrounded by water, so they do not erase an island’s fundamental nature. It is more a sort of domestication.

“Cape Breton Island is connected by a causeway to the rest of Nova Scotia.”

A solid causeway is more of a threat, but the Canso Causeway is broken by locks.

“Does the Corinth Canal in Greece make the Peloponnesus an island?”

Opinion is also important, and people have not decided that this is the case. Also, on a full view of the Peloponnesus it does not appear to be an island.

“Does the causeway to Singapore make it a peninsula?”

The Johor-Singapore Causeway is very small compared to the size of the island. Still, if it is solid all the way through, it does compromise Singapore’s status as a true island.

“Or is the natural state of the land mass the arbitrator of the land mass? I think you mentioned a former island in the Aral Sea or the Caspian as a peninsula due to the drop in water level. But was that not the result of irrigation?”

Human actions create and destroy islands all the time — what matters is whether a body of land surrounded by water results.

“Rene Lavasseur in Quebec exists as an island only because of the damming of the Manicaguan Reservoir.”

René-Levasseur is nonetheless a real island, as this view of the Manicouagan Reservoir shows. It is, incidentally, the largest island created by human action.

geography, geographic

Query: Lena River Delta islands, Siberia, Russia

Monday, April 24th, 2006

A reader asks: “In my atlas there is a large island at the northwest end of the Lena River delta in the Russian Arctic. It is not named in the atlas, but it appears to be bigger than Vaygach. Have you any information on this?”

The distinct islands shown on some maps of the delta seem to be illusory; see Google maps, which shows a largely unifed delta.

That said, see the map on p. 2 of
this paper. “Arga Island” seems largely to correspond with the beige area in the Google satellite view, and could be some 10,000 square km, or 4,000 square miles.

But it’s not much of an island: see these details of the channels that would form its southern boundary.

Virtually the only references to Arga Island online (at least in English) are in the context of that single paper on Nikolay Lake.

This paper has this to say:

The western part of the Lena Delta is formed by a large, 20-m-high sand island fringed by a unique lace coast formed by narrow estuary-like bays deeply penetrating the land. This unique coast undergoes intensive erosion not only on promontories but also inside of estuaries due to storm surges reaching to >2 m height. The sand island is characterized by typical lake-thermokarst relief.

Page 17 of that paper refers to Tit-Ary Island, south of Arga.

Here is a small, real island in the delta, indicating that other islands have names.

So, is there a large island in the northwest of the Lena River Delta? I suppose so, but you can be the judge.

[Russian islands, delta islands]

What is the area of a submerged island, grasshopper?

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

A newspaper offers this Zen statement about a small Michigan island used for an annual party:

“The island was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which dumped clean dredged materials onto the site from 1937 through the mid-1960s. The island is actually about 137 acres, but all but 4 acres are submerged.”


Island or rock? Sometimes it matters

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

When it comes to Okinotorishima, “Tokyo claims the parts above sea are islands, Beijing prefers to think of them as mere rocks.” Whose definition prevails could determine whether Japan has exclusive rights over thousands of square miles of the Pacific Ocean.