The oldest water on Earth has been discovered by scientist in a Canadian mine well below the surface. The water was found in an isolated reservoir in Timmins, Ontario, and it was announced on May 16 in the journal Nature.
After further testing, the scientist announced that the water has been trapped underneath the copper and zinc mine for 1.5 billion to 2.6 billion years. The researchers reported their historical find on Wednesday after finding the water over 2.4 kilometers, roughly 1 1/2 miles, under the mine.
The journal Nature reported that the find had no source of free flowing water that led to the pocket and that the water couldn’t have contacted the Earth’s atmosphere for at least one billion years and up to 2.64 billion years.
“We were expecting these fluids to be possibly tens, perhaps even hundreds of millions of years of age,” said Chris Ballentine, a geochemist at the University of Manchester in the UK that was on site when the water was trapped.
Ballentine went on to add in the report that the findings were “doubly interesting” due to the fact that the oldest water on Earth carries the ingredients that are necessary to support life. The researchers will now do their best to find life within the supply, as Ballentine believes it provides “secluded biomes, ecosystems, in which life, you can speculate, might have even originated.”
Why is this so important? Not only does the find raise questions about ancient life on Earth that has never been found, but also the possibility of water on Mars. Though it’s all speculation at this point, Ballentine noted that rocks on Mars have the same chemical make-up as rocks on Earth, and he concluded that “there is no reason to think the same interconnected fluids systems do not exist there.”
The study was funded by local organizations including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canada Research Chairs program.
The scientist are now studying to see if the oldest water on Earth has harbored life in anyway.
[Image via Roger McLassus]