192. Fresh Water at Sea

Water, water,every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

So cried the Ancient Mariner, in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem.

Had he known where to look for it, he could have dipped his cup in to the sea and raised to his lip a drink of delicious fresh water. Drinking water in the sea is a miracle, but it is a possible miracle!

This miracle happens this way. The rain water falls on land and seeps to the sea bed through porous rocks called “aquifers”, to supply the springs at the sea bed or ocean floor.

Aquifers are porous chalk or lime stone sandwiched between two layers of water-proof rocks that extend beneath the sea.

Fresh rain water, filtering down the aquifer to the sea bed is under sufficient pressure, to force its way through any cracks ( in the sea bed or ocean floor).

It gushes out into the sea as a spring of fresh water.

It has a higher temperature and lower density than the surrounding saline water. So it floats up to the surface, without mixing with the sea water. This forms packets of fresh water on the surface of the sea.

The existence of such fresh water springs has been known for hundreds of years. The earliest reference to such a spring was made by a 15th century Arabian navigator. Similar springs exist off the South east coast of The U.S.A and off the coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Visalakshi Ramani.


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