Jun 25, 2019 07:31 AM EDT
NORTH ATLANTIC -- Geologists have discovered a giant reservoir of freshwater underneath the North Atlantic ocean. While the size of this cache was rather surprising, researchers say that it shouldn't be unexpected. It was in the 1970s when first signals of the freshwater reservoir was noticed but it was not until recently that people suspected it to be a rather big one. It is trapped in porous rock that is suspected to run the entire length of the North-East side of the US.
"We knew that there was freshwater resource in some isolated places in the ocean, but we didn't expect the extent of its natural geometry," Chloe Gustafson said. She is a marine geologist from the Columbia University. In 2015, fellow researchers of Gustafson conducted a pilot of their study in the coast of Massachusetts Island of Martha's Vineyard and the coast of New Jersey.
The team utilized an electromagnetic receiver aboard the Marcus G. Langseth, a research vessel. The intent was to conduct a survey of offshore groundwater deposits that may be buried in the sediments under the continental shelves. Private oil companies who have conducted exploratory drilling back in the 1970s occasionally found freshwater resource while drilling for their fossil fuel.
This was how scientists knew that there was something down there, however, they didn't have enough data resource as to the size and the amount of freshwater reserves were to be found down there. To rectify what was missing, the crew aboard the Margus G. Langseth surveyed two locations in the Northeast coast in a span of 10 days, looking for possible signs of electrical conductivity in the waters.
Saltwater is known to be a more effective conductor of electromagnetic (EM) waves than freshwater resources. The EM receivers that were deployed underwater enabled the researchers to create a map of the existence of the mysterious aquifier. The results of the study were published and it became the first comprehensive attempt to map down the giant reservoir. It revealed the "continuous submarine aquifier that stretches at least 350km of the Atlantic coast of the US." The study also reveals that the aquifier contains 2,800 cubic kilometers of groundwater with recorded low salinity levels.
Though the nature of the EM mapping still leaves a lot of be beckoned, the results of the study remain at the level of interpretive for now. However, the team infers that the aquifier's freshwater cache runs all the way to Delaware up past New Jersey.
"This potential freshwater reservoir opens up new opportunities for research. There may be several other places where such type of hidden gem can be found," authors of the study explained.
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