2.8 Trillion Tons of Nearly Fresh Water Found Under the Ocean

Low-salinity submarine groundwater contained within continental shelves is a global phenomenon. While low-salinity groundwater is thought to be abundant, its distribution and volume worldwide is poorly understood due to the limited number of observations.

Researchers have imaged laterally continuous aquifers extending 90 km offshore New Jersey and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on the U.S. Atlantic margin using new shallow water electromagnetic geophysical methods. They identified clinoforms as a previously unknown structural control on the lateral extent of low-salinity groundwater and potentially a control on where low-salinity water rises into the seafloor.

The data suggest a continuous submarine aquifer system spans at least 350 km of the U.S. Atlantic coast and contains about 2800 km3 (2.8 trillion tons) of low-salinity groundwater. The findings can be used to improve models of past glacial, eustatic, tectonic, and geomorphic processes on continental shelves and provide insight into shelf geochemistry, biogeochemical cycles, and the deep biosphere.

This could be a significant resource with potential for future offshore groundwater production. Given the 90 km offshore extent, 350 km distance between profiles, about 200 m thickness and 45% average porosity, we estimate the aquifer system contains at least 2800 km3 of water with salinity less than 15. If we consider the potential northeast and southwest extensions beyond our profiles, there may be several times more groundwater underlying the northeast portion of the U.S. Atlantic continental shelf, representing a freshwater resource that rivals the largest onshore aquifers. Utilization of such groundwater would require desalinization and effects such as upconing should be considered prior to extraction.

20 thoughts on “2.8 Trillion Tons of Nearly Fresh Water Found Under the Ocean”

  1. Thank you for using my proper honorific. Now that you’ve shown due politeness, I will reveal that I have been making fun of you.

    Just saying..

  2. It took me less than 5 seconds to write, because I already know the thrust of the conversation. You appear to still be lost.

  3. “Water dissolving and water removing
    There is water at the bottom of the ocean
    Under the water, carry the water
    Remove the water from the bottom of the ocean
    Water dissolving and water removing” – “Once In A Lifetime” – Talking Heads

  4. It is 4-10 times more water in or below earth crust than above.

    To that seawater to fresh is down to 2,5 kWh/m^3 with reverse osmosis.

  5. Cheap shot. Igor used the terms “we” and “our”, which are plural. Neither he nor jan meant it just for themselves individually.

  6. Yes, Thomas Gold is associated with a number of different theories. And it’s not obvious to me which one you are referring to.

  7. How can this be explained quantum mechanically? Yellowstone Volcanic Caldera.facies character.
    Delta and shelf clinoform development, the effect of sea.level and sediment.^supply on geometry and time scales;
    an analogue flume model.

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    It’s time for a ‘THINK LIKE TRUMP’ campaign model!


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  8. I didn’t think that the North East of the USA needed water?

    If it was off North West Australia, or Northern Africa, then I could see the attraction.

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