London, Dec 6.- Australian scientists say they have found massive freshwater reserves beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa, according to the latest issue of Nature magazine.
The estimated volume of the reserves found is of some 500,000 cubic kilometers, hundreds of times more than than the amount of water extracted from the Earth's sub-surface over the last 100 years, the article says.
Researchers examined previous scientific studies of the seabed and investigations made for oil and gas exploration.
The water deposits under the seabed were created from the absorption of rainwater when sea levels were much lower.
After the last ice age, the reserves were covered with water from the polar ice caps that melted and formed oceans about 20,000 years ago.
Scholars say the water in these reserves stayed fresh because it was protected by sedimentary layers.
Experts warn that the exploitation of these submarine reserves would have a high cost and would require many precautions to not contaminate the water.
According to UN reports, about 40 percent of the world's population suffers from a lack of drinking water, and that number is growing constantly. (Prensa Latina)