Tags: Science | water | Australia

Scientists Discover Vast Undersea Freshwater Reserves

Sunday, 08 Dec 2013 10:14 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Australian researchers said Thursday they had established the existence of vast freshwater reserves trapped beneath the ocean floor which could sustain future generations as current sources dwindle.

Lead author Vincent Post, from Australia's Flinders University, said that an estimated 500,000 cubic kilometres (120,000 cubic miles) of low-salinity water had been found buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.

"The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we've extracted from the Earth's sub-surface in the past century since 1900," said Post of the study, published in the latest edition of Nature.

"Freshwater on our planet is increasingly under stress and strain so the discovery of significant new stores off the coast is very exciting.

"It means that more options can be considered to help reduce the impact of droughts and continental water shortages."

UN Water, the United Nations' water agency, estimates that water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population in the last century due to demands such as irrigated agriculture and meat production.

More than 40 percent of the world's population already live in conditions of water scarcity. By 2030, UN Water estimates that 47 percent of people will exist under high water stress.

Post said his team's findings were drawn from a review of seafloor water studies done for scientific or oil and gas exploration purposes.

"By combining all this information we've demonstrated that the freshwater below the seafloor is a common finding, and not some anomaly that only occurs under very special circumstances," he told AFP.

The deposits were formed over hundreds of thousands of years in the past, when the sea level was much lower and areas now under the ocean were exposed to rainfall which was absorbed into the underlying water table.

When the polar icecaps started melting about 20,000 years ago these coastlines disappeared under water, but their aquifers remain intact -- protected by layers of clay and sediment.

Post said the deposits were comparable with the bore basins currently relied upon by much of the world for drinking water and would cost much less than seawater to desalinate.

Drilling for the water would be expensive, and Post said great care would have to be taken not to contaminate the aquifers.

He warned that they were a precious resource.

"We should use them carefully: once gone, they won't be replenished until the sea level drops again, which is not likely to happen for a very long time," Post said.

© AFP 2014

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

SpaceX Launches Supplies Rocket to International Space Station

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 21:25 PM

The SpaceX company returned to orbit Friday, launching fresh supplies to the International Space Station after more than . . .

Cool Heels on Climate Change Actions, Skeptics Say

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 15:08 PM

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been seized upon by the Obama administration and environ . . .

New Technique to Grow Stem Cells Could Lead to Cloning

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 10:45 AM

Experts warned that a new technique allowing stem cells to be grown from the DNA of human adult males could lead to huma . . .

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved