Science & Technology
Vast freshwater reservoir found under the ocean
By T.K. Randall
June 24, 2019 · 14 comments
There is a large amount of freshwater under the sea. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Brocken Inaglory
Scientists have discovered a giant aquifer of freshwater hidden deep beneath the North Atlantic.
While the presence of freshwater trapped in porous rock beneath the ocean had long been suspected, nobody could have predicted just how much of it is actually down there.
The discovery was made thanks to marine geologist Chloe Gustafson from Columbia University and colleagues who carried out a survey of offshore groundwater deposits in the region using an electromagnetic receiver deployed from the research vessel Marcus G. Langseth.
The results identified a "continuous submarine aquifer system span[ning] at least 350 km of the US Atlantic coast and contain[ing] about 2,800 cubic kilometers of low-salinity groundwater."
The freshwater aquifer runs from Delaware to Massachusetts and possibly even further than that.
"If we consider the potential northeast and southwest extensions beyond our profiles, there may be several times more groundwater underlying the northeast portion of the US Atlantic continental shelf, representing a freshwater resource that rivals the largest onshore aquifers," the authors wrote.
It is believed that the aquifer formed from meltwater at the end of the last Ice Age.
Given that freshwater shortages are likely to become more of a problem in the future, this expansive new resource could prove invaluable over the coming decades.
Source: Science Alert
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