Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Editors' Highlights

Pumping Offshore Groundwater Resources Has Consequences on Land

While vast volumes of fresh groundwater are located offshore, pumping these reserves can also deplete on-shore aquifers and cause land subsidence.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


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Offshore freshwater is a global resource of vast volume (100,000 cubic kilometers). This resource is becoming increasingly important with the expansion of coastal populations and offshore industrial activities, such as oil exploration and production. Several research articles have highlighted the presence of fresh groundwater in offshore environments, but there has been very little work exploring the consequences of extracting this water.

Yu and Michael [2019] calculate the extent of depletion from offshore wells. Their numerical groundwater flow simulations show that, depending on geologic setting, connected onshore aquifers are also subject to depletion. This depletion also causes land subsidence. This paper is among the first to consider the pros and cons of offshore groundwater development. It highlights the value of such analysis in the sustainable management of these resources and assessment of environmental impact.

Citation: Yu, X., & Michael, H. A. [2019]. Offshore pumping impacts onshore groundwater resources and land subsidence. Geophysical Research Letters, 46. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL08191   

—M. Bayani Cardenas, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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