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

belowground, subterranean, underground

Antonyms: Adjective

aboveground, surface

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Examples of subsurface in a Sentence


a sandy wasteland that gave little hint of its subsurface wealth

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In emails dating back to July, Jazmadarian said FMWD was investigating subsurface soils and trying to determine what caused the pipe to fail. Sara Cardine, La Cañada Valley Sun, "City sues FMWD to fix Foothill Boulevard dip caused by leaking pipe," 11 Sep. 2019 Perhaps the earthquake swarm was the result of magma squishing through the subsurface, and the low-frequency rumble was caused by waves resonating in a collapsing magma chamber. National Geographic, "Strange waves rippled around Earth. Now we may know why.," 21 May 2019 For thousands of years, the subsurface soil in the area had been permanently frozen, but global warming is changing that, causing the underground soil layers to begin to thaw. Carrie Arnold, WIRED, "A Blazing Hot Coal Seam Shows How Microbes Can Spring to Life," 21 Apr. 2019 The duo constructed a high-resolution look into the subsurface by mapping out the different speeds of seismic waves that 217 earthquakes sent rippling through the region. National Geographic, "A tectonic plate is dying under Oregon. Here’s why that matters.," 29 July 2019 An aerial survey would have provided some information about the subsurface conditions, although such surveys are less detailed and useful than on-the-ground seismic work. New York Times, "Arctic Refuge Likely Won’t Be Surveyed Before Oil Lease Sales," 8 July 2019 Experts expect the water in this sunless subsurface reservoir to be the same temperature as the shallows of the Pacific Ocean. Shannon Stirone, Scientific American, "New NASA Mission Will Fly Titan’s Frigid Skies to Search for Life’s Beginnings," 27 June 2019 Previously, scientists would collect surface ice measurements and infer the properties of subsurface realms, but Peden had a plan to delve into the research even further. Kristen Pope, Smithsonian, "Trailblazing Engineer Irene Peden Broke Antarctic Barriers for Women," 8 June 2019 The Pohang plant works by pumping thousands of gallons of water deep beneath the Earth’s surface and into small subsurface cracks. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "One of the Worst Earthquakes in Korea's History Was Caused by Humans," 21 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 With this equipment, the researchers can generate a subsurface electrical field to indicate features such as stone or brick walls and old pits. Karen Farkas,, "President James A. Garfield's former home to be studied by archeologists," 11 Oct. 2017 Property rights harness the discovery process—encouraging efficiency. Perhaps most relevant, however, is the ease with which subsurface mineral rights could be reconfigured. WSJ, "Oil and Spectrum Rights Models Offer a Clue," 9 Oct. 2017 Environmentalist groups have argued subsurface wells beneath the ocean floor would be preferable to protect microscopic marine life. Lauren Williams, Orange County Register, "Barbara Boxer to lobby for desalination plant in Huntington Beach," 19 Apr. 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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Statistics for subsurface

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for subsurface

The first known use of subsurface was in 1775

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