A gigantic aquifer of mostly freshwater, hugging the coastline from New Jersey to Massachusetts, is located below the ocean floor. It contains at least 2,800 cubic kilometers (that's about 739 trillion gallons) of liquid. That's enough water to fill up to 1.1 billion Olympic-sized swimming pools.
It's the largest known undersea, freshwater aquifer on Earth. But, more importantly, there may be other such aquifers like this throughout the world, and a potentially huge natural resource on a planet with a steadily growing population.
Since at least the 1
In 1915, Kerry Key, a geophysicist at Columbia University, and Rob Evans, a geologist and geophysicist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, dropped special instruments to the ocean floor near those old oil drill holes to measure electromagnetic fields and map the water.
Their research has shown the aquifer, which lies about 600 feet below the ocean floor, ran from shoreline to as far as 75 miles away from the coast
So how did the freshwater get there? The researchers were theorizing the fresh water in the aquifer, which was melted after the last ice age and was trapped in a sediment that was rocky.
Gustafson, Key and Evans hope their research can be used to pinpoint other undersea coastal aquifers around the world that could be "a potential resource in regions where onshore freshwater resources have diminished. "
The fresh water in the aquifer would still need to undergo desalination before it could be used for drinking water, because the water is slightly salty since it mixes a little with the saltier ocean water