A team of University of Toronto geoscientists has made a discovery of a two billion-year-old water, believed to be the oldest water ever found, in a mine in Timmins, Ontario.
Oliver Warr, a postdoctoral researcher and leader of the team, said the discovery could lead to a new understanding of ancient life on earth pand other planets, scientists say.
“We thought, ‘Wow’. Everything about the water is brand new.
“We are seeing signals in all isotopes that we’ve identified so far that we’ve never seen anywhere else,” American TV network quoted Warr as saying.
A carry over from 2013 adventure
The findings stem from the researchers’ earlier exploration of water in the same active copper, zinc and silver mine in 2013.
Geochemical analyses of the water at a depth of 2.4 kilometres showed it was a billion years old.
“Since then we’ve gone even deeper into the mine – three kilometres down.
“It’s even more unique,” Warr said by phone from San Francisco, where he and lead researcher Barbara Lollar presented their discovery at the American Geophysical Union.
Warr said helium, argon, neon, krypton and xenon were found in the water.
Those gases accumulate over time in the fluid trapped in rock fractures.
How its age was figured out
Calculating how much of each gas has accumulated in the water helped the researchers figure out its age.
“If water has been down there for up to two billion years, it can tell us something about the atmosphere at the time, or the state of the Earth.
“These are what previously we’ve not been able to get much insight into,” Warr said.
The water is up to eight times saltier than seawater, and likely has some trace metals in it, he said.
Water tastes disgusting
“It won’t kill you if you drink it, but it would taste absolutely disgusting.
“Although the ancient fluid isn’t tasty, it may hold life.
“That could have great ramifications as to how life might exist at these kinds of depths, how it might survive.
“It could start paving the way for understanding life on other planets as well,” Warr said.