Guaraní Aquifer

Guaraní Aquifer

The Guaraní Aquifer, located beneath the surface of the original four Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), is one of the world's largest aquifer systems and an important source of fresh water for its people. [ [ News] from the BBC ] Named after the Guaraní tribe, it covers 1,200,000 km², with a volume of about 40,000 km³, a thickness of between 50 m and 800 m and a maximum depth of about 1,800 m. It is estimated to contain about 37,000 km³ of water (arguably the largest single body of groundwater in the world, although the overall volume of the constituent parts of the Great Artesian Basin is much larger), with a total recharge rate of about 166 km³/year from precipitation. It is said that this vast underground reservoir could supply fresh drinking water to the world for 200 years. Due to an expected shortage of fresh water on a global scale, which environmentalists suggest will become critical in under 20 years, this important natural resource is rapidly becoming politicized, and the control of the resource becomes ever more controversial.

Geology of the aquifer

The Guaraní Aquifer consists primarily of sedimented sandstones deposited by fluvial and eolian processes during the Triassic and Jurassic periods (between 200 and 130 million years ago), with over 90% of the total area overlaid with igneous basalt of a low-permeability, deposited during the Cretacous period, acting as an aquitard and providing a high degree of containment. This greatly reduces the rate of infiltration and subsequent recharge, but also isolates the aquifer from the Vadose zone and subsequent surface-associated losses due to evaporation and evapotranspiration.

Research and monitoring of the aquifer in order to better manage it as a resource is considered important, as the population growth rate within its area is relatively high — resulting in higher consumption and pollution risks.

Concerns of U.S. strategic presence

The Argentine film called "Sed, Invasión Gota a Gota" ("Thirst, Invasion Drop by Drop"), directed by Mausi Martínez, portrays the military of the United States as slowly but steadily increasing its presence in the "Triple Frontera" (Triple Frontier, the area around the common borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil). The supposed reason for the increasing presence of U.S. troops and joint exercises, mainly with Paraguay, is to monitor the large Arab population which resides in the area, according the American government. Martínez alleges that it is the water which brings the Americans to the area, and she fears a subtle takeover before the local governments even realize what is going on.

Similar concerns were lifted following both the signature of a military training agreement with Paraguay, which accorded immunity to U.S. soldiers and was indefinitely renewable (something which had never been done before, while Donald Rumsfeld himself visited Paraguay and, for the first time ever, Paraguayan president Nicanor Duarte Frutos went to the White House), and the construction of a U.S. military base near the airport of Mariscal Estigarribia, within 200 km of Argentina and Bolivia and 300 km of Brazil. The airport can receive large planes (B-52, C-130 Hercules, etc.) which the Paraguayan Air Force does not possess. [ Cite news | title=U.S. Military Moves in Paraguay Rattle Regional Relations | publisher=International Relations Center | date=December 14, 2005 | accessdate=April 2006 | url= ] [ US Marines put a foot in Paraguay] , El Clarín, September 9, 2005 es icon ] The governments of Paraguay and the United States subsequently ostensibly declared that the use of an airport (Dr Luis María Argaña International) [] was one point of transfer for few soldiers in Paraguay at the same time. According to the Argentine newspaper "Clarín", the U.S. military base is strategic because of its location near the Triple Frontier, its proximity to the Guaraní Aquifer, and its closeness to Bolivia (less than 200 km) at the same "moment that Washington's magnifying glass goes on the "Altiplano" [Bolivia] and points toward Venezuelan [president] Hugo Chávez — the regional devil according to the Bush administration — as the instigator of the instability in the region" ("El Clarín"). The U.S. State Department firmly [denies] [] these allegations.

High-Profile Investments in the Region

* US President George W. Bush allegedly has recently purchased a convert|98842|acre|km2|sing=on farm in Chaco, Paraguay atop the aquifer. [ [,,1928928,00.html The Guardian] and [ Counterpunch] ]
* The Reverend Moon has purchased convert|1482600|acre|km2 in Chaco, Paraguay.


External links

* [ Official Site] for the book about the Aquifer, by Nadia Rita Boscardin Borghetti, José Roberto Borghetti and Ernani Francisco da Rosa Filho (in Brazilian Portuguese)

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