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.
ExplorationWhile 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.
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.
MaterialThe 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.
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.