sub·​sur·​face | \ ˈsəb-ˌsər-fəs How to pronounce subsurface (audio) \

Definition of subsurface

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: earth material (such as rock) near but not exposed at the surface of the ground


sub·​sur·​face | \ ˌsəb-ˈsər-fəs How to pronounce subsurface (audio) \

Definition of subsurface (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or being something located beneath a surface and especially underground

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Synonyms & Antonyms for subsurface

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of subsurface in a Sentence

Adjective a sandy wasteland that gave little hint of its subsurface wealth
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Target 11, which pushed countries to protect 17 percent of surface and subsurface water and inland water areas, as well as 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, received significant attention and arguably resulted in the most concrete changes. Gloria Dickie, Scientific American, "Global Biodiversity Is in Free Fall," 15 Sep. 2020 Figuring out which compounds are embedded in the icy crust could help give clues to the chemistry of the likely subsurface ocean. Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, "One of Jupiter's icy moons may glow in the dark," 9 Nov. 2020 Europa Clipper project scientist Bob Pappalardo, a planetary geologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the probe’s main purpose will be to confirm Europa’s subsurface ocean and assess the chances that microbes could live there. NBC News, "Jupiter's moon Europa glows in the dark, scientists say," 9 Nov. 2020 Banning fracking on federal land would take hundreds of millions of subsurface acres out of play. The Editors, National Review, "Joe Biden’s Energy Policy Would Destroy the American Energy Renaissance," 26 Oct. 2020 When autumn days feel more like winter, go subsurface. Popular Science, "A beginner’s guide to catching trout—even in autumn," 26 Oct. 2020 The company owns both the surface and subsurface rights to the land and plans to create a facility on the property where the carbon gas would be shipped and then pumped underground. Mark Schleifstein,, "Lake Charles company to permanently store millions of tons of greenhouse gases 10,000 feet below ground," 18 Oct. 2020 Then a significant challenge loomed when it was found that a subsurface ledge required demolition – but without explosives., "Community News For The Putnam-Killingly Edition," 25 Sep. 2020 Then a significant challenge loomed when it was found that a subsurface ledge required demolition – but without explosives., "Community News For The Putnam-Killingly Edition," 25 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The water, the study said, could be obtained from subsurface ice on Mars. Katie Hunt, CNN, "This is how we should build on Mars, scientists say," 16 Sep. 2020 For so long, the leading candidates have been mysterious beings hidden in the soil on Mars or tiny creatures swimming in subsurface oceans on icy moons such as Europa and Enceladus. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "Scientists Find a Possible Sign of Life on Venus," 14 Sep. 2020 Galilean satellites—Europa, Callisto, Ganymede and Io—have long hinted at the presence of subsurface liquid layers. Nola Taylor Redd, Scientific American, "Jupiter’s Ocean Moons Raise One Another’s Tides," 8 Sep. 2020 The team, led by researchers with the Queen Mary University of London, used computer models to analyze the rate of biological and chemical reactions in subsurface microbes and predict the consumption rates of individual microbes, per a statement. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Deep-Sea Microbes Exert the Least Amount of Energy Possible to Survive," 12 Aug. 2020 Spacecraft haven’t been back since, and scientists are eager to investigate Triton in more depth—particularly the intriguing possibility that the plumes could be coming from a hidden, subsurface ocean. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "A Solar System of Fire and Ice," 12 Mar. 2020 Far from being an inert snowball, Pluto proved to be an active world of mountains, glaciers and perhaps even a subsurface liquid-water ocean. Andrea Gawrylewski, Scientific American, "Debunking Animal Myths, the Truth about Time and Other New Science Books," 1 May 2018 The peaks might come from subsurface chemical reactions between rocks and water, carbon-rich meteorites that enter the atmosphere, or from sudden releases from reservoirs beneath Mars’ surface. Nisha Gaind, Scientific American, "Mars Probe Poised to Solve Red Planet’s Methane Mystery," 26 Apr. 2018 Titan is thought to possess a subsurface liquid ocean that could be a breeding ground for biological life. Neel V. Patel, Slate Magazine, "NASA Is Pivoting to Astrobiology," 21 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subsurface.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of subsurface


1775, in the meaning defined above


1875, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for subsurface

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The first known use of subsurface was in 1775

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Statistics for subsurface

Last Updated

26 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subsurface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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