So-called “fossil” groundwater, which is more than 12,000 years old, is the largest source of non-frozen fresh water on Earth — and human activities like farming and manufacturing are contaminating supplies.
Human activity risks contaminating pristine water stockpiled deep underground since the age of the mammoths, said a study Tuesday that warns of a looming threat to a critical life source.
So-called “fossil” groundwater — more than 12,000 years old — trickled into sub-surface aquifers long before it could be tarnished by pollution from farming and factory chemicals. Generally stored at depths of more than 250 meters (820 feet) under the Earth’s surface, the ancient resource had been assumed to be shielded from pollution by humans — who rely on it more and more as shallower sources dry up.
Now, researchers have found traces of modern-era rainwater in wells that bring “fossil” groundwater to the surface — pointing to a contamination risk.
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