New theory to help spot water on Earth & Mars

MELBOURNE: Scientists are using a promising new theory to track down hidden water both on Earth — where fresh water is becoming dangerously scarce in some regions — and in the quest for life on Mars. The theory may play a vital role in securing the Earth's fresh water supplies, said Craig Simmons of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training and Flinders University. 

Simmons and his colleagues have been working on a theory that groundwater flows faster when it contains salt, heat, radioactive waste or contaminated liquids from landfills — all of which increase the water's density and hence the speed it travels downwards. "When heavier groundwater layer sits on top of a layer of clean fresh water, it will sink because of gravity," said Simmons. 

"We can, therefore, model where and how fast contaminated or saline water will travel, and so try to prevent it from polluting nearby fresh aquifers which people rely on for drinking or domestic use. This is vital to securing the Earth's fresh water supplies," said Simmon.