Natatorium naysayers argue – among other absurdities – that an ocean pool can’t survive being in, well, the ocean.
We demonstrated with a post on the ocean pools of Australia just how wrong that kind of thinking is.
Turns out, though, that we could have gone a couple of continents farther on and about 20 centuries earlier to make the point. To ancient Rome, in fact.
As the science news site Futurity reports, the Romans were whizzes at building concrete maritime structures that have – literally – stood the test of time. Wharves, breakwaters, other harbor structure – all made of Roman concrete and all still in existence two millennia later.
Here, for instance, is a photo of a sample of ancient Roman concrete. It’s drilled from a breakwater in Pozzuoli Bay, near Naples, Italy, that dates back to around 37 B.C.E.:
The study described in the Futurity story – conducted by engineers from the University of California, Berkeley – involved analyzing core samples from the still-standing breakwater. Modern concrete, the story says, “begins showing signs of degradation within 50 years.”
“Roman concrete has remained coherent and well-consolidated for 2,000 years in aggressive maritime environments,” Marie Jackson, a Cal-Berkeley research engineer in civil and environmental engineering, says in the Futurity story.
It is one of the most durable construction materials on the planet, and that was no accident,” Jackson adds. “Shipping was the lifeline of political, economic and military stability for the Roman Empire, so constructing harbors that would last was critical.”
The Cal researchers are working now to develop a modern version of Roman concrete that is not only durable but quick-setting. One key ingredient borrowed from the Roman recipe may be volcanic ash. Gee, d’ya think we could get any of that around here?
P.S.: “Natatorium” Etymology
Is it worth mentioning, perhaps, that “natatorium” is a Latin word? Just sayin’.