Huge reservoir of freshwater discovered beneath Atlantic
Scientists have found a massive freshwater reservoir beneath the Atlantic ocean.
NEW YORK CITY — Scientists have discovered a massive freshwater aquifer hidden beneath the Atlantic.
According to a study published in Scientific Reports, Columbia University scientists used an electromagnetic receiver to survey offshore groundwater deposits below the Atlantic Ocean.
The results reveal a reservoir of freshwater stretching from the coast of New Jersey to Massachusetts, extending out about 50 miles to the edge of the continental shelf. The reservoir begins some 600 feet below the ocean floor, and bottoms out at 1,200 feet.
Researchers theorize that toward the end of the last ice age some 15 to 20,000 years ago, the world's water was locked in ice. Much of what is now the underwater U.S. continental shelf was exposed due to lower sea levels.
When the ice melted, sediments formed river deltas over the shelf which trapped freshwater in scattered pockets. Sea levels then rose later on.
The aquifer is not stagnant, and is likely fed by subterranean runoff from the land. It is also freshest near the shore, and becomes saltier farther out, suggesting that it gradually mixes with ocean water over time.
Because of this, the water would first need to be desalinated before people can use it.
While there's no need to dip into this reservoir at the moment, there may be other existing aquifers that could potentially represent a resource in drier regions like southern California, Australia, the Middle East, or sub-Saharan Africa.
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