Importance of deep and offshore groundwater in the current water scarcity crisis

Importance of deep and offshore groundwater in the current water scarcity crisis

Water scarcity is a pressing issue that affects various regions around the world, and deep and offshore groundwater can have an important role in addressing this challenge. There are unconventional water resources located deep beneath the Earth’s surface and beyond the coastal regions. These currently unknown water resources can provide a critical buffer against the impacts of drought, pollution and climate change on surface water sources.

Claudia Bertoni at the Department of Earth Sciences and geoscientists at the water and geothermal company Ruden AS in Norway have just published the results of several years of research into deep aquifers of the Horn of Africa region, showing how we can create novel workflows to ‘upcycle’ Oil & Gas data to identify deep unexplored groundwater with quality for potable, agricultural and industry uses.

This study, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway and endorsed by the Government of Somalia, shows how deep and offshore groundwater can represent a critical future resource for addressing the current water crisis in the region, and globally. It is thus essential to understand and manage these resources in a sustainable way, to ensure their long-term availability and contribute to global water security within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6: ‘Ensure access to water and sanitation for all’.

Read the paper here. 

Image Caption: a. Geological map of the Horn of Africa, compiled and modified from several sources (Abbate et al. 1993; Azzaroli and Merla 1957; Kazmin 1972; Merla et al. 1979) and the Geo- logical Map of Kenya obtained from the National Atlas of Kenya (Githaiga et al. 2021). The Daban Formation (Oligocene) is only present in the north of Somalia and therefore not included in the general stratigraphic column. Transboundary formation transitions can be abrupt, due to no entire alignment between different geo- logical maps; B. Interpreted seismic section showing the main stratigraphic units, their thick- ness in Two-Way-Travel-Time (TWT), the smaller-scale faults and the main bounding fault in the northern part of the Nogal basin (modified from Ali and Lee 2019a, b; Ali and Watts 2016). Note that, in this section, the Bihendula Formation corresponds to the upper Hamanlei/lower Uarandab Formation.