Ballast dumping site

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Place where ballast from sailing ships have been unloaded.


In order to maintain hydrostatic stability, ships needed additional weight in the hold. The weight is called ballast, and historically it consisted of sand, gravel or stones, but it could also be cargo or anything heavy. Brickstones were often used both as cargo and ballast, thus as 'paying ballast'. At the destination, the ballast was often discarded to make room for other cargo. Specific sites were marked for ballast dumping in order to prevent the harbour area from silting up. Over time, entire islands and additional land mass has been formed as a result of ballast dumping. These sites are often unique from their surroundings, for example, flowers and plants not indigenous to their surroundings can grow on ballast dumping sites. Ballast stones have been used to build roads and even whole city districts, such as the Bristol Basin in East Manhattan, USA.[1]


A ballast dumping site at Mustikkamaa, Helsinki, Finland. Part of the dumping area is located underwater. Photo: Sallamaria Tikkanen, Finnish Heritage Agency.

  1. Further reading: M. Burström, Ballast: laden with history (Lund/Riga 2017).