EarthWord – Reservoir

Release Date:

This one has a lot of variance within the scientific community, but at its core, a reservoir is a place where fluids collect and concentrate.

EarthWords is an on-going series in which we shed some light on the complicated, often difficult-to-pronounce language of science. Think of us as your terminology tour-guides, and meet us back here every week for a new word!

Lake Mead near Hoover Dam.
Lake Mead near Hoover Dam. Credit: Alex Demas, USGS

Definition:

  • This one has a lot of variance within the scientific community, but at its core, a reservoir is a place where fluids collect and concentrate.

Etymology:

  • Reservoir comes to us from the French reserver, which means “to keep.”

Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:

  • In the water world (not the Water World, mind you), reservoirs most often refer to surface lakes or ponds—often man-made—which store water. These often supply drinking water to cities, or provide water to hydroelectric power generation plants.
  • In the mineral resource world, reservoirs refer to underground areas where liquids like oil and gas can accumulate.

USGS Use:

  • USGS studies the water reservoirs for their importance in water availability as well as habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. The oil and gas reservoirs are important for their role in USGS oil and gas assessments.

Next EarthWord: When people think of the dangers of a hurricane, they tend to think of the winds. But our next EarthWord can be just as destructive!

Hungry for some science, but you don’t have time for a full-course research plate? Then check out USGS Science Snippets, our snack-sized science series that focuses on the fun, weird, and fascinating stories of USGS science.