Scientists in China have discovered what appears to be a vast ocean beneath the arid Tarim basin.
Water can be found in some of the most unexpected of places and now the Tarim basin in northwestern Xinjiang, a region that is generally regarded as one of the driest places on Earth, appears to be hiding an entire ocean beneath its deceptively desolate surface.
The scientists behind the discovery have indicated that this hidden subterranean reservoir could contain ten times more water than all of the Great Lakes in the United States put together.
“This is a terrifying amount of water,” said Prof Li Yan who led the study. “Never before have people dared to imagine so much water under the sand. Our definition of desert may have to change.”
The water is thought to have accumulated below the desert thanks to melt water running down from the nearby mountains and while researchers had long suspected that they would find at least some water beneath the sand it hadn’t been clear until now just how much there actually was.
The hunt is now on to determine if similar oceans could exist underneath other deserts as well.