Scientists have discovered a huge reservoir of potentially fresh water hidden beneath the ocean off the east coast of the United States.
The formation is an aquifer – an underground layer of permeable rock that may contain groundwater. A survey of the area revealed that it extends over 80 kilometers to the sea and extends from at least Massachusetts to New Jersey – and possibly to Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.
If the scientists' estimates are true, the volume of trapped water could be 670 cubic miles – almost as much water as in Lake Huron (850 cubic miles). This would also make the aquifer the largest formation of its kind.
The discovery is important as researchers believe there are similar aquifers around the world that may limit the availability of fresh water in regions where access to this resource is increasing.
Access to fresh water is a big problem for billions of people around the world. According to the World Health Organization, 785 million people do not even have access to a basic drinking water supply, while by 2025 half of the world's population will live in "water-soaked areas".
A Research Team, Led by Chloe Gustafson of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, we built on previous studies that showed freshwater pockets were present in the sediments beneath the salty ocean. Instead, oil occasionally hit a freshwater pocket , However, it was unclear whether they were isolated regions or parts of a larger structure. Using technology that oil companies used to search for oil, in 201
The team used seabed receivers to measure the electromagnetic fields underneath. They also emitted artificial electromagnetic impulses and recorded the reactions. Salt water conducts electromagnetic waves better than fresh water – a band with low conductivity indicates fresh water.
"We knew that fresh water existed in isolated places, but did not know the circumference or geometry," said Gustafson in a statement.
The results showed that the freshwater pockets were fairly continuous. They started on the shore and stretched up to 75 miles. It has been found that the deposits begin at a depth of approximately 600 feet and extend to approximately 1,200 feet.
The team stated that their findings could help improve models of the continental shelf history and provide insights into the cycles that drive them. It is believed that the water could have come there in two ways – that it was trapped there at the end of the last ice age, or that it is currently being fed from the mainland by underground drainage. The team believes the latter could be more likely, as measuring the salinity of the water shows that the farther away it is, the saltier it is. and that these aquifers could be an important resource for people living in regions with water scarcity. "It could turn out to be an important resource in other parts of the world," said Gustafson.