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Rock Water

March 6, 2018

Earth’s bedrock helps many forests survive drought.



Squeezing water from stone. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Even during multi-year droughts, there are mysterious islands of healthy trees that manage to survive. Now, scientists may have uncovered their secret: water stored in the pores and cracks of bedrock. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, UT Austin geologist Daniella Rempe reports that bedrock may store over 25% of the rainwater that falls in a forest.

DANIELLA REMPE (UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences):

It can store a pretty substantial amount of water; in some cases just as much as soil.


She and her colleagues at UC Berkeley drilled nine wells into the bedrock under a forest in northern California. Over four years they studied how deep tree roots exploited water and nutrients from the rock. The work will not only help with forest management, but also help fine-tune models of future climate change. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon