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The Aquafer

Many people believe that Lore is nothing but desert with a few oases scattered across its surface. This is not the case.   Though the ocean only takes up a quarter of the surface of the planet, it is far too heavy with salt and other minerals in solution to be useable. About 99.9% of the fresh water on the planet is within the vast, subterranean waterways known as the Aquafer.  

Exploration

While most of the exploration of the Aquafer's waterways are unmanned, robotic craft, several manned expeditions have taken place and continue to this day. The Board of Executors has expressed a desire to continue this exploration with the hopes of discovering the "hidden riches of Lore."   One scientist in particular, Dr. Cristin Deacon, has made several inventions to improve the efficacy of manned subterranean aquatic vehicles, SAVies. Thanks to their advancements, explorer Mose Bresnahan set the record for longest manned expedition through subterranean waterways on a non-Earth planet: 108 days.

Geography

The Aquafer is a complex network of freshwater filled tunnels that honeycombs the land of Lore. The water sits between 200-500 feet beneath the surface over most of the planet. Oases form when the water sits as close as 20 feet (~6 meters) beneath the surface.

Material

The tunnels themselves are formed from several materials.  
  • Most commonly, the tunnels are ancient volcanic vents, composed of mostly green obsidian and red granite. The colors are due to the high iron content in the soil. Patches of pumice have been found within and near the volcanic waterways, and efforts are being made to harvest the material.

  • The second most common material of the network is limestone. The portions of the Aquafer made of this rock tend to be intricately winding tunnels interspersed with cavernous subterrenean seas. Because of the prevalence of limestone within the soil of Lore, the water tends to be slightly acidic (pH 5.7-6.2), and thus requires processing before use in industrial production, though it is safe to drink.

  • The remainder of the network is less defined, and virtually impossible to travel. Bands of clay surround loose sand through which the water seeps. This is very common close to the surface of the planet, which makes reaching the more navigable waterways difficult. Portions of this area are more structured, as Water Sticks, Pepper Cactus, and other plantlife reach roots down up to 100 yards (~90 meters). These roots form tangles of biomass that strengthen the walls of the waterways. The stability that this provides allows plants to thrive on a surface that would otherwise be too dry to sustain life.

Fauna & Flora

It has been long thought that there could not be any life within the subterranean waterways of Lore. A drive to explore (and exploit) the resources of the Aquafer have proven this incorrect.   The key is the rhyzomes specific to the root systems of the native plantlife. The rhyzomes seem to be a part of the microbiome of all plants on Lore, and frequently connect the root systems of even disparate plants.   These Phytomes seem to be a kind of interchangeable biological attachment. If a plant dies, the phytomes will detatch from the root proper and graft onto another plant. This is easier than it sounds as phytomes frequently connect multiple plants together, even across species.   The phytomes draw carbohydrates produced on the surface through photosynthesis down through the roots to be distributed within the phytome network. This allows food to be distributed evenly throughout the connected species, including an array of fungi and protista.   Additionally, species of tiny jellyfish-like creatures have been discovered, leading scientists to anticipate more discoveries as exploration of the Aquafer continues.

Natural Resources

Manned and unmanned exploratory vehicles have been used for the last 20 years to investigate the Aquafer. Several natural resources have been discovered and are already being harvested. There is some pushback about whether mining these resources could put the planet's accessable freshwater at risk.  
  • Biomass: The massive root systems in the shallower parts of the Aquafer are harvested for fuel and cellulose, which is used in the production of Plastin.

  • Minerals: Several different kinds of rock and minerals have been found near the waterways. Pumice, basalt and granite have been harvested in small amounts, while sand and limestone, being closer to the surface, are harvested in larger amounts.

A rough map of the Aquafer beneath the City
Alternative Name(s)
The Waterways; the Underground Sea
Type
Underground / Subterranean
Location under
Inhabiting Species

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Comments

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21 May, 2022 01:06

Oh this is neat. Exploring the underground and water, two big fears combined! So are these tunnels all submerged, or is there air in some? Could you theoretically make a settlement there?


Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
AuthorGoddess
Sarah Buhrman
1 Jun, 2022 18:12

Technically, there would be air if the water levels drop enough. Given how deep most of the tunnels are, it is unlikely the levels would drop enough for a settlement of any size. Perhaps if the inhabitants screw up the ecosystem and begin to empty the fresh water, they would move underground since that would also make the surface even less habitable.

Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
1 Jun, 2022 11:01

What's great about this, among other things, is that the language choices always make it feel like you 100% know what you're talking about. There's a scientific authenticity to the material, which when paired with your ability to tell a good story, makes me certain this is a real place.

Check out my progress on WorldEmber 2022
AuthorGoddess
Sarah Buhrman
1 Jun, 2022 18:13

Thanks! I do actually have a science background, so that's purely by accident. :D

2 Jun, 2022 14:36

This is a nice approach to the challenge. The use of vehicles is a good idea since I think it would be too scary to go for a dive there xp Have to agree with Eccbooks you do write with a good technical viewpoint :)

Feel free to check out my WorldEmber 2022 page if you want to see what I am up to!