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Water Flowing Underground

Water flowing through aquifers back to the ocean is part of Earth’s water cycle that people often overlook, said WHOI scientist Matt Charette of the Coastal Groundwater Geochemistry Lab, because scientists have had good tools to study it for only the last 10 or 15 years. Groundwater is formed from precipitation that falls on land and slowly trickles through soil and rock. At the same time, denser saltwater from the ocean flows into coastal sediments, creating an interface with fresh groundwater. Groundwater can contain more than 20 times the amount of chemicals as other freshwater sources, so it can have significant impacts on coastal ocean chemistry and ecology. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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