NOTE: I have edited this in the hope that it will be deemed on-topic, as the previous version was too story-based. I have checked the guidelines for fixing story-based questions and believe it complies with them.

In this second manifestation of my question , I am once again asking what it would take for a team of scientists, with state-of-the-art modern-day technology, to explore a previously undiscovered* island roughly 55,000km2 in size, that is hidden from government satellites and has never been set foot on before (by a human).

Conditions on the island to consider:

  1. The island is inhabited by ample fauna and flora.
  2. Most of the island is covered in jungle and tropical savanna.
  3. It is situated towards the northern end of the Ninety East Ridge, Indian Ocean.
  4. As said, it has a rough area of about 55,000km2.

Note: I have tried to make this as non-story based as possible. Here is an extract from the "Why is my question too story-based?" page:

Off topic: Would Joe Marine 17 climb this hill wearing his backpack

On topic: Could a well-trained marine wearing a 30kg weight backpack complete a 1-mile route with 500' of ascent in 10 minutes

Off topic: Would government X pass law Y

On topic: What could cause a government to pass such-and-such law given these societal conditions

I have adjusted the old question to fit these guidelines,and I assure you that this is the best I can do. Some of the most popular questions on the site at the moment have a similar style to the edited version of this, so I hope it will get opened again.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SealBoi that explanation is important to answer this question. In former scenario, the island will be explored in "Discovery channel" style. In latter scenario, it will be a carrier group with lots of drones. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 5 '18 at 17:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I disagree with @Alexander. Let's assume a 3rd party has been paying Google, etc., to keep the island hidden. It was discovered by fishermen that the island was missing on Google maps and that was picked up by some idiotic "10 Areas Hidden On Google Maps" list. If you think about it, what the 3rd party is doing on the island has no impact on the investigating team. They don't know about it. Maybe they bring a few guns 'cause it's hidden for some reason, but they are ignorant. Ergo, it wouldn't substantially change their inventory decisions. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 5 '18 at 18:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "That will be my next question." It should have been your first question. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Apr 5 '18 at 18:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Alexander, it doesn't take anywhere near that much to allow someone to suspend their disbelief. Nowhere near all of the islands were discovered before satelites and part of the story can be why the satelite data has been hidden. My point is, why the island is undiscovered would not be a deciding factor for the investigator's inventory other than personal weapons (at most). In other words, the OP asking this question now is fine. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 5 '18 at 18:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn, that's an excellent idea to help the OP build his story. It has nothing at all to do with answering the OP's question. As I just explained to Alexander, a basic courtesy of this site is to take the OP at their word to answer the question. I can think of a number of "suspension of disbelief" reasons that would justify the OP's conditions. Please remember, this site is about science FICTION, not science FACT. One of our goals is to help the OP bend the facts to help them make cool fiction. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 5 '18 at 19:22
  • Mapping overflights with either fixed-wing planes, helicopters, or (fixed or rotaty wing) drones. The island is something like 250 miles in diameter, so it might take a fairly large two-engine model to get the mapping done quickly. Something the size of the Britten-Norman Defender, with a scientific instrument load.
  • Ground surveys in many places. Say you divide the island into 10 km grids and visit every intersection, and it would be roughly 550 sites. If one team can do one site a day, then half a dozen teams would need more than a year, counting downtime. Delivery with a combination of boats, helicopters, and jeeps. We're talking about dozens of scientists, with dozens of support staff, so it makes sense to do many things at once -- boats traveling up the rivers, helicopter teams inserted in interesting spots, 4x4s in the savannah.

(Clarification, I don't suggest surveys on that grid. This is just to estimate the magnitude of the task.)

  • Will somebody be looking into oil, gas, or ore? Specialized vehicles for seismic testing.

That's assuming that the funding is available. If the island is suddenly detected, there will be many sides interested in how could that happen, and bring more effort than we're seeing in the Antarctic today.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the comprehensive answer! So, I imagine that the protagonists in the book will be entirely made up of scientists, particularly biologists, with maybe a few geographers, geologists etc. As for the "suddenly detected" scenario, I think that will be more how it will play out, as the antagonists will probably be a separate faction interested solely in extracting resources that arrive later. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 5 '18 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ With your airplanes: bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42916261 $\endgroup$ – bendl Apr 5 '18 at 18:42

Disclaimer: this answer assumes that the government (US or any major country) just discovered the island and has no reason to hold back their involvement.

The US military will conduct the exploration.

In virtually every scenario, sudden discovery of a large island would present a challenge to world order and political balance. If it is unknown who lives on this island and whether they present a threat, military would be immediately sent to investigate.

First, satellites will provide extensive mapping. Second, long-range surveillance planes will reach the island and start providing more detailed information. This will happen on the first day of discovery. US has by far the most resources to start exploration.

Third, Navy ships will reach the island, and eventually the group will grow large to provide a full quarantine. This is again, will be US/NATO ships. Russia, China will strongly object, but they don't have the forces that could reach the island in time, much less to stop what US will be doing there.

Fourth, Navy would make up a plan for the island exploration. Civilians may be invited, but in general, the island would be off limits to anybody who does not receive military clearance. By this time, island will be satisfactory mapped. For the list of supplies, this link will provide some information: Marine expeditionary unit

Fifth, helicopters will take out teams of marines and Navy SEALs into the island, where they would make a thorough search for any human or technological presence. Drones will provide air cover and additional exploratory information. General public will be given some information, but only what is deemed appropriate by the military command. Supply bases will be established on the coast. Given the size of the island, it may take a long time.

Sixth, at the same time, UN will be struggling with the status of the island and the fact that NATO does not allow anyone else there. Eventually, some sort of agreement will be made, but it is reasonable to assume that no country would be able to claim this island, and, at least initially, there would be no permanent settlements and no mining there.

Seventh, military would finally clear the island for civilian presence. At this time, universities and private funds from all around the world would prepare expeditions that will descend on the island. Those expeditions would have all kinds of supplies, and they would be able to benefit from the exploration already done by the military.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, so really in a realistic scenario, the discovery of a habitable island wouldn't play out like Jurassic Park II, with a small team of researchers going there before anyone else and getting killed? $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 5 '18 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ In the fourth stage of the scenario, would the military employ any top-class civilian scientists/explorers, perhaps accompanied by a team of soldiers, to inspect the fauna and flora of the island - from a scientific point of view - or would research not be something they'd be interested in? $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 5 '18 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ @SealBoi - yes, but mostly from a security standpoint, like - should our marines keep away from this spider? But later, as it becomes clear that there's no military threat, researches may join military teams in big numbers (I mean before step 7). $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 5 '18 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ @SealBoi, Alexander is overstating things. Just because there was/could have been a coverup does not change this question at all and your Jurasic Park style of story will work just fine. You just need to incorporate the reason for satelite data being hidden as part of your story (having more than one mystery is a good thing, consider "Lost.") $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 5 '18 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ And, Alexander, I downvoted this because it does not answer the OP's question. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 5 '18 at 18:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.