Offshore submarine freshwater discovery raises hopes for islands worldwide

Offshore submarine freshwater discovery raises hopes for islands worldwide
Eric Attias (middle) deploying the surface-towed marine controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) system off of Hawai’i Island. Credit: University of Hawai’i

Twice as much freshwater is stored offshore of Hawai’i Island than was previously thought, according to a University of Hawai’i study with important implications for volcanic islands around the world. An extensive reservoir of freshwater within the submarine southern flank of the Hualālai aquifer has been mapped by UH researchers with the Hawai’i EPSCoR ‘Ike Wai project. The groundbreaking findings, published in Science Advances, reveal a novel way in which substantial volumes of freshwater are transported from onshore to offshore submarine aquifers along the coast of Hawai’i Island.

This mechanism may provide alternative renewable resources of freshwater to volcanic islands worldwide. “Their evidence for separate freshwater lenses, stacked one above the other, near the Kona coast of Hawai’i, profoundly improves the prospects for sustainable development on volcanic islands,” said UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) Dean Brian Taylor.

Paradigm shift

Through the use of marine controlled-source electromagnetic imaging, the study revealed the onshore-to-offshore movement of freshwater through a multilayer formation of basalts embedded between layers of ash and soil, diverging from previous groundwater models of this area. Conducted as a part of the National Science Foundation-supported ‘Ike Wai project, research affiliate faculty Eric Attias led the marine geophysics campaign.

Offshore submarine freshwater discovery raises hopes for islands worldwide
Porpoise system graphic. Credit: University of Hawaiʻi

“Our findings provide a paradigm shift from the conventional hydrologic conceptual models that have been vastly used by multiple studies and water organizations in Hawai’i and other volcanic islands to calculate sustainable yields and aquifer storage for the past 30 years,” said Attias. “We hope that our discovery will enhance future hydrologic models, and consequently, the availability of clean freshwater in volcanic islands.”

Co-author Steven Constable, a professor of geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who developed the controlled source electromagnetic system used in the project, said, “I have spent my entire career developing marine electromagnetic methods such as the one used here. It is really gratifying to see the equipment being used for such an impactful and important application. Electrical methods have long been used to study groundwater on land, and so it makes sense to extend the application offshore.”

Kerry Key, an associate professor at Columbia University who employs electromagnetic methods to image various oceanic Earth structures, who not involved in this study, said, “This new electromagnetic technique is a game changing tool for cost-effective reconnaissance surveys to identify regions containing freshwater aquifers, prior to more expensive drilling efforts to directly sample the pore waters. It can also be used to map the lateral extent of any aquifers already identified in isolated boreholes.”

Offshore submarine freshwater discovery raises hopes for islands worldwide
Credit: University of Hawai’i

Two-times more water

Donald Thomas, a geochemist with the Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology in SOEST who also worked on the study, said the findings confirm two-times the presence of much larger quantities of stored groundwater than previously thought.

“Understanding this new mechanism for groundwater…is important to better

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6 Russian military officers charged with a worldwide cyberattack

Six Russian military officers have been charged in what the Justice Department says was a hacking scheme to attack several major foreign powers, former Soviet republics and subvert investigations into nefarious activities by the Kremlin.



a man wearing a suit and tie: US Department of Justice seal is displayed on a podium during a news conference to announce money laundering charges against HSBC on December 11, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.


© Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
US Department of Justice seal is displayed on a podium during a news conference to announce money laundering charges against HSBC on December 11, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The alleged cyberattackers hacked into software using destructive malware to black out thousands of computers and cause nearly $1 billion in losses, and were intended to support Russian government efforts to undermine, retaliate against, or otherwise destabilize worldwide computer networks, the Justice Department said.

The alleged hackers are officers of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. Monday’s charges allege some of the most consequential political attacks levied by the Kremlin since its efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, including the hacking of Democratic Party email accounts.

Prosecutors said they attacked Ukraine; the country of Georgia; elections in France; efforts to hold Russia accountable for its use of a weapons-grade nerve agent, Novichok, on foreign soil; and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games after Russian athletes were banned from participating under their nation’s flag, as a consequence of Russian government-sponsored doping effort.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania issued a federal arrest warrant for each of these defendants upon the grand jury’s return of the indictment.

“The defendants’ and their co-conspirators caused damage and disruption to computer networks worldwide, including in France, Georgia, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” prosecutors said.

They are all charged in seven counts: conspiracy to conduct computer fraud and abuse, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, damaging protected computers, and aggravated identity theft.

One of the pieces of malware developed by the hackers took down the medical systems of Heritage Valley in Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.

From November 2015 to October 2019, “their computer attacks used some of the world’s most destructive malware to date, including: KillDisk and Industroyer, which each caused blackouts in Ukraine; NotPetya, which caused nearly $1 billion in losses to the three victims identified in the indictment alone; and Olympic Destroyer, which disrupted thousands of computers used to support the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics,” prosecutors said.

The NotPetya malware, for example, spread worldwide, damaged computers used in critical infrastructure, and caused enormous financial losses. Those losses were only part of the harm, however. For example, the NotPetya malware impaired Heritage Valley’s provision of critical medical services to citizens of the Western District of Pennsylvania through its two hospitals, 60 offices, and 18 community satellite facilities.

The attack caused the unavailability of patient lists, patient history, physical examination files, and laboratory records. Heritage Valley lost access to its mission-critical computer systems (such as those relating to cardiology, nuclear medicine, radiology, and surgery) for

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