Marine hydrogeology: recent accomplishments and future opportunities
Marine hydrogeology is a broad-ranging scientific discipline involving the exploration of fluid–rock interactions below the seafloor. Studies have been conducted at seafloor spreading centers, mid-plate locations, and in plate- and continental-margin environments. Although many seafloor locations are remote, there are aspects of marine systems that make them uniquely suited for hydrologic analysis. Newly developed tools and techniques, and the establishment of several multidisciplinary programs for oceanographic exploration, have helped to push marine hydrogeology forward over the last several decades. Most marine hydrogeologic work has focused on measurement or estimation of hydrogeologic properties within the shallow subsurface, but additional work has emphasized measurements of local and global fluxes, fluid source and sink terms, and quantitative links between hydrogeologic, chemical, tectonic, biological, and geophysical processes. In addition to summarizing selected results from a small number of case studies, this paper includes a description of several new experiments and programs that will provide outstanding opportunities to address fundamental hydrogeologic questions within the seafloor during the next 20–30 years.