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Science & Technology

Fresh water reservoir discovered off Hawaii

By T.K. Randall
November 26, 2020 · Comment icon 2 comments

The ocean floor off Hawaii contains a vast amount of fresh water. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 dronepicr
A new imaging technique has provided an effective way to locate hidden undersea sources of drinking water.
As things stand, most of the remote Pacific state's water supply comes from onshore aquifers - layers of subterranean rock and soil that collect up rainwater. Eventually, there is a risk that the destruction of local forests and a reduction in rainfall could see this supply dry up.

Now though, the University of Hawaii's Eric Attias and colleagues have made a discovery that could not only ensure the future of the state's water supply, but also make it easier to discover additional sources of water further down the line.

By using a boat and a 40-meter-long antenna to generate an electromagnetic field, the researchers were able to use a technique similar to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to differentiate between seawater and freshwater - even with sources situated below the bottom of the ocean.
Using this method, they discovered an extensive reservoir of fresh water contained within porous rock 500 meters beneath the seafloor. In total, it is thought to contain 3.5 cubic kilometers of water.

In addition to bolstering Hawaii's water supply, this hidden reservoir could also be easier to pump than the onshore aquifers because it is under high pressure.

It is thought that similar reservoirs might be found throughout the Hawaiian archipelago.

Source: New Scientist | Comments (2)

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