Hugh Howey's novel Sand revolves around "sand diving" -- using a fictional mind-controlled method of vibrating the titular sand to allow the diver to sink into, move through, and "see" (as with sonar) objects in the deep, deep sand. One piece of 20th/21st century tech is critical, however: SCUBA. Without air tanks, regulators, and the high pressure compressors to fill the tanks, a diver is limited to the length of a single held breath -- else exhaling will inevitably lead to inhaling sand, a particularly unpleasant version of drowning.

The novel is set in what had been Colorado, and one of the subplots is the search for the legendary Denver, the greatest trove of buried riches imaginable -- and a minor entry involves divers bringing up "new" tanks and compressors from dive shops under the sand.

The thing that bugs me with this is that SCUBA diving is mainly an oceanic sport, occasionally practiced in deep lakes and a very few rivers (where the current isn't insurmountable). Hence the question. It's been a while since I read the book, and it was on Kindle Unlimited so I no longer have a copy. Was it ever explained why there were dive shops in and around Denver?

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    A simple google maps search shows that there are many dive shops in Denver right now. The invention of airplane travel has allowed people to live in one place and dive in another. Jan 5, 2022 at 15:35
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    You can fill them at the site. Returning to Denver after each dive to refill your tanks would be cost prohibitive. Jan 5, 2022 at 15:38
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    Right. The Denver tanks are meant for Denver use, presumably generally in artificial diving pools.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 5, 2022 at 15:42
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    @ZeissIkon The small, portable oxygen systems for light aircraft are nothing more than small scuba bottles with a constant flow regulator. They are exactly like CPR units. The bottles are hydro-ed to much higher pressures, as are any scuba tanks you’d want to carry. TSA regulations prohibit filled tanks on commercial airline travel. Private plane travel not regulated by TSA but instead FAA os completely different matter. Jan 5, 2022 at 15:56
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    @SillybutTrue There you are. Only private pilots or passengers of such can fly with filled SCUBA tanks. Still, I was unaware there were enough dive opportunities in Colorado to produce a population of divers who can support multiple dive shops in the area -- and our world is "forgotten history" internal to Sand.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 5, 2022 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


Colorado, particularly, the Denver area allows access to a number of interesting and unique diving experiences, including deep lakes and reservoirs.

Some examples, quotes taken from 5280 Promotions:

  • Aurora Reservoir:

    Although you’ll likely encounter suboptimal water clarity that only allows you to see from four to 25 feet (60 to 70 feet is considered good visibility in the Pacific Ocean), spotting the submerged Cessna 310, sunk in 1994 to attract divers, is worth the challenge. Find the buoy marking the vintage plane’s resting place predive.

  • Jefferson Lake:

    Boasting some of the best visibility in Colorado, the lake has views extending up to 40 feet, allowing you to take in the imposing boulders across the bottom and catch the shimmery shadows of kokanee salmon and rainbow trout tailing you through the deep.

  • Blue Mesa Reservoir:

    When the government flooded towns and highways around Gunnison to form this hydroelectric power–generating lake 54 years ago, it also created enticing ruins to explore (it’s all foundation now). Rent a boat for better access to submerged bridges and a steep, 100-foot drop-off on the south side of the reservoir.


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