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Large quantities of freshwater found beneath seafloor

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Oceans
Large quantities of freshwater found beneath seafloor Shutterstock
01 Feb
2014
A team of scientists has discovered huge reserves of freshwater beneath the world’s oceans

It has been known for some time that there were freshwater reserves under the seafloor, but they were thought to form only under rare and special conditions. But in a study published in Nature, the scientists reveal that an estimated half a million cubic kilometres of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world. ‘The volume of this water resource is 100 times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century,’ said the study’s lead author, Vincent Post of Flinders University in South Australia. ‘Knowing about these reserves is great news because this volume of water could sustain some regions for decades.’

The researchers suggest that the reserves formed over the past hundreds of thousands of years, when the average sea level was much lower than it is today and coastlines were farther out. ‘So when it rained, the water would infiltrate into the ground and fill up the water table in areas that are nowadays under the sea,’ Post said. ‘It happened all around the world, and when the sea level rose [after] the ice caps started melting, these areas were covered by the ocean.’

This story was published in the February 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine

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