Offshore Groundwater Resources in a Changing Marine Environment: Continental Shelf Surrounding PEI

Groundwater represents the world’s largest freshwater resource and provides drinking water for two billion people globally and over 10 million Canadians. Prince Edward Island is 100% dependent on groundwater for both irrigation and drinking, but this resource has faced compounding stresses in recent years due to the extensive agricultural industry and the impacts of climate change. Freshwater offshore aquifers located beneath the seafloor may represent a new and critical water resource for PEI.

Project details

Principal Investigator(s):
Vittorio Maselli
Principal Investigator:
Project Start Date:
Project End Date:
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Research Outcomes

About the research project

About the research

The project brings together an internationally renowned and multidisciplinary research team to test the hypothesis that offshore aquifers are hosted in fractured consolidated clastic sediments, and that the dynamics of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last glacial-interglacial cycle(s) contributed to their recharge. Using state-of-the-art geophysical, oceanographic, and geochemical equipment, the team will focus on the continental shelf surrounding PEI to discover and map offshore freshwater aquifers. The new data will be used to understand how these aquifers evolve in response to water extraction and changes in climate and coastal environments.  By providing estimates of offshore groundwater quality and quantity, this project will have a direct application for future sustainable development of PEI and other island and marine coastal settings worldwide.  

Principal Investigators

  • Vittorio Maselli (Dalhousie University, Earth and Environmental Sciences)


  • Mladen Nedimović (Dalhousie University, Earth and Environmental Sciences, WP1 Lead)
  • Christian Berndt (GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, WP1 Lead)
  • Marion Jegen (GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, WP2 Lead)
  • Amir Haroon (GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, WP2 Lead)
  • Dr. Sebastian Hölz (GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, WP2 Lead)
  • Aaron Micallef (GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, WP3 Lead)
  • Alexander Hay (Dalhousie University, Oceanography, WP4 Lead)
  • Craig Brown (Dalhousie University, Oceanography, WP5 Lead)
  • Katleen Robert (Memorial University, Marine Institute, WP5 Lead)
  • Barret Kurylyk (Dalhousie University, Civil Engineering, WP6 Lead)
  • Holly Michael (University of Delaware, WP6 Lead)
  • Joshua MacFadyen (University of Prince Edward Island, WP7 Lead)


  • Judith Elger (GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Collaborator WP1)
  • Helmuth Thomas (Helmholtz Centre for Material and Coastal Research, Collaborator WP3, WP4)
  • Ruth Musgrave (Dalhousie University, Oceanography, Collaborator WP4)


  • Dalhousie University
  • University of Prince Edward Island
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland, Marine Institute
  • GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
  • University of Delaware
  • Helmholtz Center for Material and Coastal Research
  • Nova Scotia Community College
  • Texas A&M University
  • Government of PEI - Environment, Water and Climate Change
  • Government of PEI - Energy Corporation
  • Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines
  • Geological Survey of Canada Atlantic
  • Aquanty Inc.
  • AML Oceanographic
  • Rockland Scientific
  • Kongsberg
  • Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI
  • Seaforth Geosurveys Inc.
  • 20 NEXUS Resource Management Ltd.