The planet, as we know it, was covered by glaciers thousands of years ago. Plummeting temperatures cause water levels to recede, freezing and causing the formation of ice layers that covered much of the northern hemisphere. With the ice age ending, temperatures rose once again to see the oceans restored to their liquid state and land masses get free of ice. But this process allowed freshwater to be trapped under the oceans, in isolated pockets. Or so was believed when the discovery was made in the ‘70s while drilling for oil. It turned out that this just might be the world’s largest freshwater source.
Scientists have been towing electromagnetic sensors across sections of the oceans. That was done over ten days between New Jersey and Massachusetts. The researchers have been able to map the area holding freshwater. This was done by measuring the different ways electromagnetic waves moved through fresh and saltwater.
It was discovered that the underground freshwater reserves are a minimum of 50 miles in length from the US shore on the Atlantic. These hold considerable amounts of low salinity water, reaching levels twice the size of Lake Ontario. These deposits start at 183 meters below the floor of the ocean and can be detected for hundreds of miles to at least equal the largest terrestrial freshwater sources.
Scientists spotted the world’s largest freshwater pocket under oceans
Chloe Gustafson, lead author on the study comments: “We knew there was freshwater down there in isolated places, but we did not know the extent or geometry. It could turn out to be an important resource in other parts of the world.”
It is believed that the size of the deposit is evidence of it being fed by terrestrial sources as well that may be hiding under land masses that have similar characteristics. These freshwater deposits under oceans do not hold 100 percent freshwater. The research shows that they are comprised of salt water at less that one part per thousand.
Uniformity cannot be seen here as the part that is closest to land is quite close to being pure, and the parts on the outer edges have about half the ocean’s salinity. However, such a source could be made very useful by use of desalination plants that could convert it.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere