• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.


E4 Bunker

Page history last edited by Michael 1 year, 3 months ago

back to the Index or to Engineer Team E-4



A map of the area around the bunker.


     A Morrow Project equipment and supply bunker, located in San Bernardino county, California  at the Aiken Cinder Mine, 26 km south of Interstate Highway 15, in the Mojave National Preserve, part of the Sonoran Desert. Autonav coordinates: 35° 13' 48" North latitude, 115° 43' 33" West longitude.

     It's built into the side of a cinder cone -- a loose pile of reddish pumice, with its peak 1417 meters above sea level; cinder cone, and several adjacent cones and extinct volcanoes, are called the Marl Mountains.

     The bunker itself is 1,200 meters (3,940 feet) above sea level. The mine produced about 1.4 million tons of cinder from 1954 until 1983; the mine was purchased in 1983 by a shell company owned by the Council of Tomorrow. Information about the bunker construction timeline and effort can be seen here.

     Nearby places: 


  • Cima (21 km); population about 20, but it does have a post office, store and gas station, serving ranches and homes in the area.

  • Kelso (24 km); the Union Pacific depot closed in 1985. Population about 70 in the late 1980s; it was known as the "town without television" -- about the closest place to Los Angeles that couldn't receive any TV signals.

  • Baker (32 km); population about 700 in the 1980s. There's a small airport, a couple of fast-food restaurants, the Bun Boy restaurant and (very nasty) motel, three other motels, a couple of stores and gas stations, etc. In 1988 the Baker Community Correctional Facility (a privately-operated prison) opened there.


     Water sources in the area includes several seeps and springs, though these can go dry during a multi-year drought. Deep wells are present at the towns listed above, plus at Halloran Springs, near the Interstate, or at Zzyzx. In general, wells of 120 meters depth or more will provide water from the Mojave River basin.

     The Mojave Desert Lava Tube is a bit more than 2 kilometers southwest of the bunker.




     The bunker is a 240 meter long, 9 meter wide concrete tunnel with eight chambers (each 18 meters on a side) opening into it at the entrance end, and one smaller chamber at the far (inner) end. The internal air volume is about 44,000 cubic meters; about 35,000 tons of cinders had to be removed during construction.

      The structure is made from superdense magnetite-aggregate steel-reinforced concrete, with a borated polyethylene 60 mil liner on all interior wal and ceilings for insulation and to improve airtightness, to absorb neutrons and to reduce moisture infiltration and other contamination of the interior (it's also got fire retardant properties, mostly to prevent the liner itself from burning). The team is expected to tear up much of the liner material once the bunker is "in service" -- it's white, with embedded polyester fibers, never more than 4 meters wide (that's the width of a roll), weighs 1.42 kg per square meter, and is food-safe by the way. It's not on the floors because vehicles would tear it up, even just during "filling the bunker".

     Once the bolthole's occupants and equipment are in place, it is filled with nitrogen gas at about 15% above local atmospheric pressure. Many (thirty? more?) 20 liter plastic buckets of desiccant (bentonite and silica gel) is placed in the interior to reduce the humidity.



     The tunnels have arched ceilings; the side walls of the main tunnel are 7 meters high; in the side chambers, the vertical walls are only 4 meters high. The highest part of the ceiling in the main tunnel is 11.5 meters above the floor; in the side chambers, the highest point is 8.5 meters above the floor.

     Along most of the main tunnel are clusters of stainless steel nozzles every 1.5 meters -- these are the vents for nitrogen and oxygen tanks embedded on the other side of the wall.


The grey stripes "outside" the tunnels represent the locations of the oxygen and nitrogen tanks.


     Storage chambers 5, 6, 7 and 9 contain a huge amount of Callender-Hamilton truss components, along with most of the 200 liter drums of lubricants, paint, hydraulic fluid, two-part polymer components, etc. in the base. The drums are stored horizontally, on angle-iron steel racks.

     Storage chambers 1 and 2 mostly contain the wheels and tires (including many spare tires) for the Overland Train; they also each have four of the CONEX boxes. The electric forklifts have their own "closets"; they are plugged into the bunker's power system, and have their solid rubber tires installed. They only need to have their hydraulic fluid and lubricants added, and then they can be taken off their jackstands and driven.

     At the rear of the "forklift closets" are access panels to the motors and pulleys which open and close the main doors, and the rams which push the "ramp" out and down.

     Most of the smaller vehicles and trailers the team possesses are in chamber 3 and 4. The two amphibious ATVs, and their trailers, are stored just in front of the Overland Train, on blocks with their wheels removed.


Cryogenic Chamber


     The team's cryoberth compartment has its own nitrogen and oxygen replenishment system; see more details here. The "front" and "rear" door openings are each 2 meters wide and 3 meters high, with two-part airtight doors set in them. Above each door is a stainless steel thumbwheel -- this opens (and closes) a small vent to the other side of the wall, for testing air quality.

    There's enough oxygen in the cryogenic chamber (once it's been oxygenated) to keep eight people alive for about a week (one reason for the high ceiling is greater volume of air) --  but carbon dioxide will accumulate to dangerous levels in a couple of days.

     The "side" passage (to the escape trunk) is only about 1 meter wide and 2.5 meters high.

     The contents of this chamber have their own page. 


heaters and personal gear sets with Stoner carbines are shown


cross section at the escape trunk; the table and other loose items aren't shown;

note the pressure relief vent pipe rising next to the escape trunk


Power Room


     On the wall next to the reactor is a circuit breaker box, and a recharging rack for Project batteries:  12 slots for camera (AA size), 8 for radio (deck of cards size) and 2 for vehicle (big can of beans size) -- they each recharge in five or ten minutes.

     This compartment has its own oxygen and nitrogen tanks and manifold built into the walls.

     A well 120 meters deep bring up water to cool the reactor (and potentially provide drinking water after being filtered); inside the well is a submersible pump. The pump feeds a 1,000 liter stainless-steel water tank, with a sign, "NON-POTABLE WATER". The tank is on a very sturdy cradle, and has an inspection hatch on top, a small electric pump which feeds a regular "garden tap" (there's a screw-on cap for the hose tap, as a safety precaution), a 30 meter coil of green garden hose which starts out laid in a coil on the floor, and a multi-function hose spray head.


Most of the team will know that the water tank label is mostly a precaution -- the water hasn't been filtered, but it "should" be safe.


Escape Trunk


     A steel stairway rises up 90 flights (about 180 meters) from a door in the cryogenic chamber. It's encased inside a 2.5 meter by 4 meter concrete stairwell, with electroluminescent night-lights at each landing, and opens at the top into a small platform -- a periscope is located here. There are stainless steel air-vent nozzle clusters at several of the lowest landings.

     A stainless steel door on one side of the small upper platform seals off a vertical cofferdam, filled with reddish cinders; an 8 meter tall ladder within the cofferdam connects the top of the stairwell with the surface. The steel door has a slot for a Morrow Project ID card on the outside, sealed behind a thick rubber plate -- but you have to dig up a few tons of cinders to reach it.

     The cofferdam exit is in fact just 40 meters southwest of the peak of the cinder cone -- if the bunker itself were twice as long, it would emerge on the west side of the cinder cone.




     Unlike a Project bolthole, this bunker is designed to be able to close the front hatch (though probably not fully airtight or hidden once it's been opened). From the inside, a set of rams push a sort of bulldozer blade/ramp up and outwards, to clear the cinders from in front of the door. The only door which can be opened from outside (before the cinders are removed) is at the bottom of the cofferdam, leading to the top platform of the escape trunk.

     Storage conditions are similar to those in a Project bolthole, including the monitor computer and VLF radio (see below). There is a lighting and power distribution system within the bunker, with 110 and 240 volt AC outlets all along the walls; the bunker has its own Mark 1 fusion generator -- unlike a bolthole, it doesn't depend on a vehicle-mounted generator. The generator is only running at about 10% of its rated output, even when the bunker is fully operational.

     There are industrial lighting systems (using 500 watt incandescent bulbs) overhead in each compartment. There are no working sewage or water distribution systems; however some fixtures (pipes under the floor and within the walls, hardware attachments, etc.) are provided, along with drawn-up plans and some parts.

     The only heaters are in the cryogenic chamber; there are smoke and fire detectors in all the compartments. Ventilation ductwork and fans connect the main chamber and the storage compartments -- not the cryoberth area or power room. After the bunker is opened, the crew would have to do some work for the final "connection to outside air".

     A dozen sound-powered telephones are installed on the walls at various locations within the bunker.

     A traveling overhead crane runs on tracks on the side walls of the main tunnel, 8 meters above the floor. It has a capacity of 50 tons.

     There are sumps in the main tunnel, the cryogenic chamber, the bottom of the escape trunk, and the power compartment -- each of these has a backflow preventer, and connects to a sort-of leach-line network buried in the cinder cone. There are no septic tanks or sanitary drains under the bunker (although these exist within a few hundred meters outside, from the former construction camp).

     All along both sides of the main tunnel are nozzles for the large tanks of nitrogen and oxygen embedded just beyond the tunnel walls. The nozzles will be covered in frost for many hours after the base has finished activating.

     The "personnel" doors leading from the cryoberth compartment are manually-cranked; the big double-doors (8 meters tall, made of 5 cm thick armor steel; each half weighs 12 tons) at the main entrance are driven by electric motor and gear-drives, with a backup pulley system (some vehicle, or the overhead crane, would have to pull on the two cables to open the main doors).


elevation of the front exit


The Monitor


     A simple electronic system monitors the VLF radio, conditions within the bunker , the status of the cryoberths, and the status of the bunker's fusion reactor. The cryoberths, radio and monitor draw less than 3000 watts of power. The wakeup procedure requires about 8 hours to complete (and draws a few kilowatts of power for each cryoberth).

     Environmentally, the monitor watches temperature, air pressure, toxic agents, radiation count, smoke detectors, and orientation. If the interior temperature exceeds 27° Celsius for 24 hours, or 40° Celsius for 1 hour; if the air pressure is not at least 10% above local (pre-War, anyway) atmospheric pressure for 24 hours (after activating any remaining nitrogen tanks); if the smoke detector goes off; or if the orientation detector signals a 5 degree tilt for more than 2 minutes, the monitor system will initiate the cryoberth wakeup process.

     If the fusion reactor indicates that less than 15% of its fuel remains, the monitor will initiate wakeup of the team.

     If a critical number of the cryoberths have signaled a "fault" status, the monitor system will initiate wakeup on the remainder. For a team of 8 persons or less, the critical number is "half". If any of the cryoberths have the wakeup process started manually (there's a switch on the outside of each berth) the monitor will initiate wakeup on all of them -- unless whoever's waking them up uses an MPID to over-ride the "team wakeup" process. If the monitor detects the team-specific wakeup signal on the VLF radio, it'll start the wakeup process on all berths (this may not be true for some teams outside the Recon branch).

     In any case, if the wakeup process for one or more berths is initiated, the monitor will open the manifold valves for all the oxygen tankage systems in the bunker (there are three separate systems), and open the automatic valves on the nitrogen storage tanks to feed into an external vent. The monitor will attempt to keep the cryogenic chamber to at least at 5° Celsius (all that oxygen escaping and nitrogen venting will really cool it down) by turning on the four electric floor heaters. Air pressure in the chamber will go to about 1.2 atm (about as much as being under 2 meters of water), or a bit more, depending on how much nitrogen is still present, the normal external air pressure, and any large leaks. The monitor will remotely turn on the control cars' AutoNav units and computers, set the time and date, and pass along information about the reason for the activation process (including any data received over the radio). The cumulative radiation amount within the bolthole will be passed along also. The refresh cycle takes 20 hours, during which about 2,000 cubic meters of nitrogen is vented every hour (1200 cfm, for you HVAC people).

     The monitor uses something like the sensor on an M1 CBR kit to detect agents and atmospheric components in the bunker, with the same 75% chance of detection. If it senses something toxic, it does not affect whether or when the wakeup takes place, but will turn on a warning signal in each berth during wakeup -- a nasty electronic buzz and lamp with the words "DANGER TOXIC AGENTS PRESENT".


You hope it stays unlit ...


... and this one, too!


     It's up to the unlucky Project members to figure out how to deal with those ...


     All of the extra air pressure can place tons of force on the doors, which is why they are sliding doors and not hinged doors; a hand-operated pressure release valve (also for testing) is built into the wall over each door. Note that opening these valves will probably produce a loud noise for a minute or so. Everyone's ears will pop very painfully as the pressure drops. There won't be a condensation cloud (the air coming out of the bolthole is very dry) but it'll blow any loose material away from the doors.

     Also note that if you're trying to test from a compartment with higher-pressure air than the compartment being tested, air won't flow into your compartment through the valve.


     As all the berths open, the monitor and radio will self-destruct. If you're listening, you might hear a faint pop-and-sizzle sound.


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.