Underwater Labyrinth Hidden Beneath Surface Contains a Huge Swathe of Life

By Ian Banks | May 11, 2024

Microbial communities

In a groundbreaking endeavor, scientists have ventured into the remote reaches of these mapped cave networks spanning 1,500 kilometers (932 miles). 

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Getty Images

They have uncovered flourishing microbial communities thriving within the freshwater layers atop the saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico's Yucatán carbonate aquifer stands as one of the planet's most expansive groundwater systems, with only a fraction of it accurately charted. 

Intricate network

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via Northwestern University

Its myriad sinkholes, some hazardous, intricate network of underground passageways, and vast caverns not only supply drinking water to ten million annual visitors and two million locals but also harbor these thriving microbial hubs.