Researchers have come up with a way to determine the freshness of water without drilling wells. To do this, they study the composition of water molecules.
Researchers have studied the thawing of permafrost and found a relationship that will help find fresh water faster in the future. In particular, scientists were able to find a relationship between the ratio of uranium isotopes in water and its salinity.
“Analysis of the isotopic composition makes it possible to show which sources are involved in the formation of groundwater and in which direction you need to move in order to further explore for water reserves. Further, it will be possible to purposefully conduct industrial surveys, ”- noted the specialists of the Federal Research Center for the Comprehensive Study of the Arctic.
The researchers said that they have been working on a project to study the melting of permafrost for many years. Researchers pay special attention to the content of deuterium and oxygen-18 – these are isotopes that make up the water molecule, and the ratio of uranium-234 to uranium-238. The study participants want to develop this approach – their ratio indicates the waters that were formed by the melting of ground ice.
Especially to confirm their theory, the researchers chose an area where permafrost had existed for tens of thousands of years. During research, scientists have found that uranium isotopes are in equilibrium, while the water is fresh and suitable for drinking. But salty waters are characterized by a significant excess of uranium-234 over uranium-238. This data can be used to search for fresh water, so as not to drill wells.