A huge cache of fresh water was found beneath the sea floor off the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.
Eric Attias at the University of Hawaii and his colleagues discovered the reservoir, which is contained in porous rock reaching at least 500 meters beneath the sea floor. Most of Hawaii’s fresh water comes from onshore aquifers, which are layers of rock and soil underground that collect water after rainfall. The team believes that this newfound reservoir is replenished by water flowing out of these aquifers.
Climate change has led to an increase of droughts in many places across the islands, which could lead to some areas void of water. A continued decrease of rainfall and the destruction of forests could result in onshore aquifers to eventually dry up.
Not only would the offshore reservoir help relieve drought, it may also be easier to pump from than the onshore aquifers, because the water is under high pressure. Accessing it would also have minimal impact on surrounding ecosystems, says Attias.
Similar caches of water may be located off other volcanic islands, says the team, which could provide a relief for other places threatened by water scarcity due to climate change.
By Kristofel Abella
Ka Lā News staff writer