Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



WATER WORLD
Humans threaten 'fossil' groundwater: study
By Mariėtte Le Roux
Vienna (AFP) April 25, 2017


Human activity risks contaminating pristine water stockpiled deep underground since the age of the mammoths, said a study Tuesday that warns of a looming threat to a critical life source.

So-called "fossil" groundwater -- more than 12,000 years old -- trickled into sub-surface aquifers long before it could be tarnished by pollution from farming and factory chemicals.

Generally stored at depths of more than 250 metres (820 feet) under the Earth's surface, the ancient resource had been assumed to be shielded from pollution by humans -- who rely on it more and more as shallower sources dry up.

Now, researchers have found traces of modern-era rainwater in wells that bring "fossil" groundwater to the surface -- pointing to a contamination risk.

"It's a bit like going to an old folks' home and suddenly realising there are also little kids running around. That's great, except if the little kids have the flu," said study co-author James Kirchner of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

The fear, he explained, is that younger water may pollute the ancient aquifers with fertilisers, pesticides or industrial runoff from Earth's surface -- though they have not found any evidence for this yet.

Groundwater is rain or melted ice that filters through Earth's rocky layers to pool in aquifers -- a process that can take thousands, even millions, of years.

It is the largest store of unfrozen fresh water on Earth.

Groundwater is pumped to the surface with wells for drinking and irrigation, and supplies about a third of human water needs.

- Thinking long-term -

For the latest study, presented at a European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, a research team set out to determine how old Earth's groundwater really is.

They used radiocarbon and tritium content to distinguish old from young groundwater and determine their relative abundance.

New groundwater has more tritium, a short-lived isotope of hydrogen, as it was more recently exposed to Earth's atmosphere and surface, tainted by nuclear tests since about the 1950s.

Radiocarbon, on the other hand, takes almost 6,000 years to decay. It is therefore much less abundant in fossil water.

The data showed that "most of the groundwater under our feet is surprisingly old," said Kirchner.

Roughly half -- potentially more -- dates from 12,000 years ago or more.

"The assumption would be if your groundwater comes from a time when mammoths were roaming the Earth, that those mammoths did not have chlorinated hydrocarbons," Kirchner explained.

"If your water dates from a... pre-industrial era, the assumption would be it can't be carrying industrial-era contaminants down underground."

Against expectations, however, the team found that about half of "fossil" groundwater wells they studied contained detectable levels of tritium, indicating the presence of younger water.

"This observation questions the common perception that fossil groundwaters are largely immune to modern contamination," concluded the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Fellow author Scott Jasechko, of the University of Calgary, said the findings were worrying on two levels.

Not only may "fossil" groundwater be exposed to contamination, it would also take millennia to replenish once used up.

"Conserving groundwater for future generations is important and requires us to consider timespans beyond the typical political or land management timescales of years or decades," he told AFP.

The High Plains aquifer in the United States, for example, would take an estimated 6,000 years to refill, according to the study authors.

And Libya's Nubian aquifer, formed in a geological epoch when the now-dry region was wet and green, is being depleted at a rate of six million cubic metres of water per day.

WATER WORLD
New membranes can remove viruses from drinking water
Sede Boqer, Israel (SPX) Apr 20, 2017
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have developed novel ultrafiltration membranes that significantly improve the virus-removal process from treated municipal wastewater used for drinking in water-scarce cities. Current membrane filtration methods require intensive energy to adequately remove pathogenic viruses ... read more

Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

WATER WORLD
Japan disaster minister to resign over quake gaffe: reports

The Nepal quake survivors who can never go home

Ukraine, Belarus leaders mark Chernobyl anniversary

Rights group urges China to release N. Korean refugees

WATER WORLD
MIT engineers manipulate water using only light

NIST method sees through concrete to detect early-stage corrosion

Berkeley Lab scientists discover new atomically layered, thin magnet

A plastic-eating caterpillar

WATER WORLD
Vinegar offers hope in Barrier Reef starfish battle

Humans threaten 'fossil' groundwater: study

In Mexico City, water a rare commodity

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

WATER WORLD
Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

New atlas provides highest-resolution imagery of the Polar Regions seafloor

Researchers solve the century-old mystery of Blood Falls

More Antarctic protections urged on World Penguin Day

WATER WORLD
China-bound illegal donkey hide haul seized in Pakistan

A novel form of iron for fortification of foods

Rivers of blood orange: Juice floods Russian town

When Nature vents her wrath on grapes

WATER WORLD
Atlantic storm season starts early, putting energy industry on notice

Nepal quake injured stalked by disability two years on

Report identifies grand challenges to better prepare for volcanic eruptions

At least 11 killed in Colombia floods: Red Cross

WATER WORLD
Congolese plantation sprouts art centre to help the poor

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti

Top conservationist wounded in Kenya gun attack

Morocco, US stage joint military exercise

WATER WORLD
Prehistoric human DNA is found in caves without bones

New paper claims humans were in California 130,000 years ago

Indonesian hobbit evolved from African ancestor

Neuroscientists measure 'higher' state of consciousness




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement