Scientists Uncover a Huge Reservoir of Freshwater Hidden Beneath The Ocean

Scientists Uncover a Huge Reservoir of Freshwater Hidden Beneath The Ocean

Beneath the salty waters of the North Atlantic ocean, geologists have found a large aquifer of freshwater, hidden from view simply off the US coast.

Whereas the huge dimension of this large cache is stunning, it is not completely surprising. Alerts of the water first confirmed up within the 1970s, however till now, no person suspected that this large reservoir trapped in porous rock may run virtually the complete size of the US Northeast.


“We knew there was freshwater down there in remoted locations, however we didn’t know the extent or geometry,” says marine geologist Chloe Gustafson from Columbia College.

In 2015, a few of Gustafson’s fellow researchers performed a pilot examine off the coast of New Jersey and the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Winery.

Utilizing an electromagnetic receiver deployed from the analysis vessel Marcus G. Langseth, the crew was trying to survey offshore groundwater deposits buried in sediments beneath continental cabinets.

 (Tailored from Gustafson et al., Scientific Experiences, 2019)

Above: Large aquifer seen in yellow hatched areas, with triangles representing survey expeditions.

Exploratory prospecting by oil corporations way back to the 1970s had sometimes found freshwater when drilling for the fossil gas, so scientists knew one thing was down there; however knowledge on the useful resource – and the scale of the cache – was in brief provide.

To rectify that, the analysis crew on the Marcus G. Langseth surveyed the 2 Northeast coast areas for 10 days, on the lookout for indicators conductivity within the waters beneath the vessel.

Salt water is a more practical conductor of electromagnetic (EM) waves than recent water, so EM receivers deployed off the coast enabled the researchers to map the extent of the mysterious aquifer.

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The outcomes, printed in a examine detailing the primary complete try to map this big reservoir, reveal a principally “steady submarine aquifer system spans no less than 350 km [217 miles] of the US Atlantic coast and comprises about 2,800 cubic kilometres of low-salinity groundwater”.

Because of the nature of the EM mapping approach, the outcomes stay considerably interpretive for now, however the crew infers that the aquifer’s freshwater cache possible runs all the way in which from Delaware (on the south finish) up previous New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and all the way in which to Massachusetts.

As loopy because it sounds, the groundwater reservoir may even prolong farther than that, the researchers trace.

“If we take into account the potential northeast and southwest extensions past our profiles, there could also be a number of occasions extra groundwater underlying the northeast portion of the US Atlantic continental shelf, representing a freshwater useful resource that rivals the biggest onshore aquifers,” the authors clarify.

As for a way the aquifer bought there, the researchers say it possible occurred when huge quantities of recent meltwater from the final Ice Age bought trapped in rocky sediment.


To make use of the water for ingesting functions – if we had been to at some point determine to faucet it, that’s – it might first have to be desalinated, since components of it might be brackish (barely salty), particularly the parts closest to the seawater periphery.

For now, no person’s suggesting we have to do this, however the existence of the large aquifer suggests related groundwater methods may simply be hidden in different hotter and drier components of the world, like California, Australia, or the Center East.

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“It may change into an necessary useful resource in different components of the world,” Gustafson says.

The findings are reported in Scientific Experiences.


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