Researchers discover fresh water in the Mediterranean Sea – sciencedaily
Only about 3% of the water on earth is fresh water. Of this, only a small part can be used for drinking water or irrigation. Therefore, especially in arid or semi-arid regions, the search for usable freshwater resources is very intensive. In recent years, thanks to new innovative methods, previously unknown deposits have also been discovered under the seabed. Using such methods, an international team of scientists commissioned by GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel and the University of Malta obtained strong evidence of a groundwater reservoir off the Mediterranean island.
“Our discovery is based on an oceanographic expedition we conducted in 2018,” says Dr. Amir Haroon, from GEOMAR, lead author of the study. “We used geophysical methods, called reflection seismics, combined with new electromagnetic techniques to detect these deposits,” Haroon continues. “Our data suggests that groundwater occurs as an isolated body in limestone formations three kilometers from the coast,” explains the scientist.
Using digital modeling, the researchers found evidence that a second body of groundwater near the shore could exist near the Maltese coast. The body of water probably formed here during the last ice age, 20,000 years ago, when the sea level was lower than today.
From Professor Aaron Micallef, co-author of GEOMAR and the University of Malta, perspective, this finding has a number of important implications. “Groundwater at sea may represent a new source of unconventional drinking water which should be taken into account in future national water management strategies for the Maltese Islands,” he says. Also, he says, the presence of groundwater off a dry, limestone coast like Malta’s is a good sign for similar areas in the Mediterranean that suffer from water scarcity. However, he warns, using the groundwater currently found would likely be unsustainable, as it would not be actively recharged and pumping rates would likely be low.
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Materials provided by Helmholtz Center for Oceanic Research in Kiel (GEOMAR). Note: Content can be changed for style and length.