Trillions of tons of fresh water under ocean's continental shelf
The flow of terrestrial groundwater to the sea is an important natural component of the hydrological cycle.
This process, however, does not explain the large volumes of low-salinity groundwater that are found below continental shelves. There is mounting evidence for the global occurrence of offshore fresh and brackish groundwater reserves. The potential use of these non-renewable reserves as a freshwater resource provides a clear incentive for future research.
But the scope for continental shelf hydrogeology is broader and we envisage that it can contribute to the advancement of other scientific disciplines, in particular sedimentology and marine geochemistry.
Vast freshwater reserves have been discovered under the ocean floor which scientists believe could sustain future generations.
Australian researchers claim to have found 500,000 cubic kilometres (500 trillion tons) of freshwater buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa. The water could be accessed using the technology of deepwater oil drilling rigs. The infrastructure of pipelines could be setup to access millions of tons per day.
The discovery comes as United Nations estimates suggest water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of the population of the world over the last century.