Conant, Amory – Paleowaters: An Analysis of Groundwater Resources Contained in Submerged Ancient Lands (Dr. John Maclachlan)

As the 21st century progresses, the world water crisis continues to grow in severity, with millions affected globally. As a consequence, alternative water resources must be considered in order to meet increasing demand. A potential vast untapped resource is paleowater reservoirs: groundwater trapped in continental shelves that were at least in part emplaced during periods of lowered sea level, when such regions were subaerially exposed. This study conducts a literature review of global submerged paleowaters in order to provide a comprehensive overview of these freshwater deposits. Investigation of methods of emplacement, aquifer structure, salinity levels, accessibility from a physical and legal standpoint, economic viability, and potential impacts is conducted. From this background, groundwater and hydrologic concepts are applied to create a methodology to identify potential regions that experience elevated levels of recharge and freshwater emplacement during lowered sea level periods in the Quaternary. The methodology is subsequently utilized to conduct GIS analysis of several key regions of the world that have been identified as containing paleowater resources. Locations on the seafloor where recharge may have occurred are identified to determine the potential feasibility as a well field. The identification of key locations of potential massive, albeit unrenewable, freshwater resources could provide a significant opportunity for at-risk coastal communities to supplement water supply systems in the near future.