Reef technology to rescue Venice

Article metrics

Rachel Armstrong and Neil Spiller suggest that Venice's sinking foundations might be supported by an artificial reef grown using 'protocells' that precipitate limestone from sea water (Nature 467, 916–918; 2010). The technology already exists to grow structures rapidly from sea water, and this could be applied in Venice immediately.

'Biorock' electrolysis of sea water has been used for nearly 35 years in more than 20 countries to grow limestone structures of any size and shape in sea water and brackish water (W. Hilbertz IEEE J. Oceanic Eng. 4, 94–113; 1979).

Biorock products have a load-bearing strength of up to 80 newtons per square millimetre (80 megapascals), around three times higher than concrete made from ordinary Portland cement. Corals and oysters grow faster and survive environmental stress better on Biorock structures. These have helped to restore severely eroding beaches on atoll islands within just a few years (for example, see

Author information

Additional information

Contributions Submissions to Correspondence may be sent to after consulting the author guidelines at . They should be no longer than 350 words. Readers are also welcome to comment online on anything published in Nature: .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Goreau, T. Reef technology to rescue Venice. Nature 468, 377 (2010) doi:10.1038/468377d

Download citation


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.