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sub·​sur·​face ˈsəb-ˌsər-fəs How to pronounce subsurface (audio)
: earth material (such as rock) near but not exposed at the surface of the ground


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sub·​sur·​face ˌsəb-ˈsər-fəs How to pronounce subsurface (audio)
: of, relating to, or being something located beneath a surface and especially underground

Example Sentences

Adjective a sandy wasteland that gave little hint of its subsurface wealth
Recent Examples on the Web
In a process known as oxidation, iron-bearing minerals reacted with water present in Mars’s subsurface to produce iron oxides and hydrogen gas. Katherine Kornei, Discover Magazine, 25 Apr. 2023 And in the subsurface, suddenly transition metals in the middle of the periodic table, like become active for them. Jeffery Delviscio, Scientific American, 10 Apr. 2023 This compact and simple arrangement works with any subsurface fly and avoids the slack of the floating line arrangements with the attendant missed strikes, helicopter casts and often tangles. Bill May,, 24 Oct. 2021 Each of the buildings, shielded from the elements and interconnected by subsurface tunnels, are divided into floors with comfortably sized rooms. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, 8 May 2023 Many of the trailer parks across the municipality were built in the 1960s and 1970s under very different environmental and construction standards, with shoddy materials and subsurface infrastructure that has severely degraded, Cross said. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 8 May 2023 There are an infinite number of subsurface rock configurations that are consistent with the surface data. Josh Goldman, IEEE Spectrum, 29 Apr. 2023 But the biggest splash of all might lurk deep within Uranus’s largest moons, which, like so many other icy bodies in the outer solar system, might host subsurface oceans of liquid water. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, 30 Mar. 2023 If the chemicals went into the subsurface of the water, such as the sediment and the stream bed, they could get converted to something else by sunlight and then get eaten by microbes and other organisms, Booth said. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 7 Mar. 2023
So Marco Mastrogiuseppe, a researcher on the Cassini team who had used instruments like RADAR to map subsurface water on Mars, decided to try something. Liz Kruesi, Discover Magazine, 28 Oct. 2015 An entire ocean’s worth is unlikely, but a significant amount of subsurface water isn’t. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, 8 Dec. 2022 After analyzing that data, researchers had a subsurface picture of the rocks, clay and thermal liquid below Yellowstone. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 May 2022 Evaluation protocols of subsurface measurements and training of all rig site personnel have improved the drilling economics of this geothermal project. Ian Palmer, Forbes, 19 May 2022 The team is set to land near the lunar south pole because previous evidence suggests that the area may contain subsurface water ice, per Gizmodo. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Apr. 2022 Shallow pools of subsurface water froze and fractured the surface again and again. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 22 Apr. 2022 This is an important scientific mission tasked with searching for ice at the south pole and using a one-meter drill to prospect for subsurface samples. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 20 Apr. 2022 In Greenland, the ridges formed when shallow pools of subsurface water froze, thawed and refroze, fracturing the surface over time, the Guardian reports. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'subsurface.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1775, in the meaning defined above


1875, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of subsurface was in 1775

Dictionary Entries Near subsurface

Cite this Entry

“Subsurface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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