ocean under Tarim basin desert

Scientists recently discovered a giant ocean under Tarim basin, one of the largest the deserts in the world.

China’s Tarim Basin desert, which acts like a carbon sink, has a massive body of salt water beneath it.   Credit NASA

Under Tarim basin desert, one of the driest places on earth, situated in northwestern Xinjiang, China, there is saltwater in quantities about 10 times more than the total in the five Great Lakes in North America.

The researchers discovered the massive underground ocean, while investigating an estimated 1 billion tons of unaccounted carbon dioxide absorption by the region.

Li Yan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said:

“Never before have people dared to imagine so much water under the sand. Our definition of desert may have to change.

The area’s alkaline soil helps the carbon dioxide to dissolve into the water.”

He described the carbon dioxide-rich water in the ground as ‘like a can of Coke.’  If the aquifer were somehow opened, ‘all the greenhouse gas will escape into the atmosphere.’

Tarim Basin, Chinese (Pinyin) Talimu Pendi, vast depression drained by the Tarim River in the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, western China, covering about 350,000 square miles (906,500 square km).

via discovery