[FoRK] Drilling for freshwater

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Dec 9 11:27:05 PST 2013

Well that's interesting.
If accessible, pretty much solves the freshwater problem for some key areas.

Scientists discover huge freshwater reserves beneath the ocean

Scientists discover freshwater under the ocean.

Scientists discover freshwater under the ocean. Source: ThinkStock

SCIENTISTS have discovered vast reserves of fresh water located deep 
beneath the ocean that could prevent a global water crisis.

A new study published this month reveals that an estimated half a 
million cubic kilometres of low-salinity water are buried beneath the 
seabed on continental shelves around the world.

The water is located off the coast of Australia, North America, China 
and South Africa, reports Science Daily.

"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," says lead author Dr Vincent Post of the National Centre for 
Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the School of the 
Environment at Flinders University.

Dr Post says that while scientists knew of freshwater under the sea 
floor, they thought it only occurred under rare and specific conditions.

"Fresh water 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," Dr Post said.

These reserves were formed over the past hundreds of thousands of years 
when on average the sea level was much lower than it is today, and when 
the coastline was further out, Dr Post explains.

"So when it rained, the water would infiltrate into the ground and fill 
up the water table in areas that are nowadays under the sea.

"It happened all around the world, and when the sea level rose when ice 
caps started melting some 20,000 years ago, these areas were covered by 
the ocean," he said.

Dr Post says that these aquifers (underground layers of water) are 
protected from seawater by the layers of clay and sediment that sit on 
top of them.

The aquifers are similar to the ones below land, which much of the world 
relies on for drinking water, and their salinity is low enough for them 
to be turned into portable water.

So how can we collect this hidden water source?

"There are two ways to access this water - build a platform out at sea 
and drill into the seabed, or drill from the mainland or islands close 
to the aquifers."

But Dr Post also has cautions for the countries closest to the 
non-renewable freshwater deposits, saying that we should take care not 
to contaminate the seawater and subsequently the aquifers.

"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."

More information about the FoRK mailing list