Researchers Found 200,000 Years Old Aquifers In Egypt Still Being Used

Rohan Lal Kshetry
Jul 12, 2019   •  49 views

Water table is receding throughout the globe. Who`s to blame? Us. Various countries around the globe are working on finding a properly manageable and permanent solution to this problem, considering the fact that areas to plant new trees have significantly reduced in recent decades. As researchers are going the extra miles to quench the thirst, they`ve uncovered with some mesmerizing findings.

Researchers examine the age of groundwater in Egyptian aquifers.

Groundwater in Egypt’s aquifers may be as much as 200,000 years old, and that’s important to know as officials in that country seek to increase the use of groundwater, especially in the Eastern Desert to tackle growing water crisis. Whereas groundwater provides only seven percent of the water demand in Egypt, knowing how much water is available in the groundwater aquifers and how fast it is being replenished is vital for providing the population with water for drinking and other irrigation projects. Determining the age of water sources helps in those calculations.

Chlorine-36 isotope forms in the atmosphere and travels to the earth as well as has a half-life of 300,000 years. Using the same as chemical tracers to determine the age and origin of water from the Eastern Desert of Egypt, researchers have collected 29 samples from different wells that were dug during several expeditions in Egypt.

The ration between the chlorine abundances and stable chlorine isotope helped the researchers to decipher sources of chloride and to estimate subsurface residence times of groundwater from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System and fractured basement aquifers in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. What is more interesting is that, the Eastern Desert while it is still dry, it gets more rain than the Western counterpart.

Hence the researchers were curious to see if the groundwater in the Eastern Desert is younger than the water found in the Western Desert, but were surprised by their findings.

"The young groundwater that comes down as rain and takes about 50 to 100 years to flow to the Nile is being used for irrigation in some places. But some of the water they're pumping out comes from the much older groundwater in aquifer underneath," said Neil C Sturchio, professor and chair person of the Department of geological Sciences in UD`s College of Earth, Ocean Environment.

The water coming up from the deeper aquifer ended up there when the climate was much wetter, which is not less than a million years ago. Millions of years back as the weather pattern were not identical to these days, with abundant rainfall that caused water to seep into the ground and collect in the very thick, porous sandstone. This resulted for the researchers to find water that’s apparently 200,000 years old in some of the deep aquifers.

Keeping current water scarcity issue in mind it is necessary to know how much water can be pumped out before over-pumping it. The only way to keep using water is to use it slower than it would replenish itself.