Undersea Fresh-Water Aquifer off US Northeast May Help Parched Earth

2 min read

During the Ice Age, massive glaciers covered almost the entire earth. As the oceans receded, the water froze. Sheets of ice spread over the North American continent.
As time passed so did the Ice Age and around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, the glaciers started melting.

Extensive river deltas flowed out.
When the ocean’s level’s rose again pockets of water got trapped in the sediments below the ocean floor.

The first hints of fresh-water seas were when Scientists the pockets while drilling offshore for oil in the ’70s. The experts claim that although the water is not pure terrestrial water and contains salt concentrations of less than one part per thousand, it even may reach 15 parts per thousand (about half that of seawater) it’s still useful and drinkable water may be extracted using desalination plants.

The subterranean seas begin at about 600ft(183)m below the seafloor and stretch for at least 50 miles off the US Atlantic coast containing vast stores of low-salinity groundwater.

“We knew there was fresh water down there in isolated places, but we did not know the extent or geometry,” author Chloe Gustafson, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said.

“It could turn out to be an important resource in other parts of the world.”

The consistency of the data allowed to the researchers to infer that fresh-water sediments continuously span not just New Jersey and much of Massachusetts, but the intervening coasts of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.

The region holds at least 670 cubic miles of fresh water. If future research reveals that the aquifer extends further north and south, it could rival the  Ogallala Aquifer

Conceptual illustration of aquifers extending off the US Atlantic coast.

Imagine how much places like southern California, Australia, the Mideast or Saharan Africa, could benefit.


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