New Delhi: The world of Science is full of amazing surprises. There are new things being disovered every other day and there are more in waiting.
Ancient discoveries instill a sense of wonder and amazement, not to mention awe and a lot of intrigue, so much so, that it makes us want to delve deeper into its existence.
Imagine how surprised scientists were when they stumbled upon water that dates back a whopping two billion years.
Yes, Canadian geoscientists uncovered what seems to be the oldest water discovered on plane Earth, which they say could open new doors in order to gain an insight into how life emerged on our planet – and possibly elsewhere.
Located in Timmins, Ontario, researchers from the University of Toronto found the primordial water at a depth of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in Kidd Creek Mine.
The same team of researchers, co-headed by geoscientist Oliver Warr discovered 1.5 billion-year-old water in the same active copper, zinc, and silver mine, but at a shallower depth, three years previously.
They decided to look deeper, finding pools of water that date back to a time when the Earth was just 2.5 billion years old. Incredibly, this ancient water was freely flowing, and not embedded within rock formations as some geoscientists had assumed.
“When people think about this water they assume it must be some tiny amount of water trapped within the rock,” said U of T geochemist Barbara Sherwood Lollar in a conversation with the BBC. “But in fact it’s very much bubbling right up out at you. These things are flowing at rates of litres per minute—the volume of the water is much larger than anyone anticipated,” Gizmodo reported.
Traces of helium, argon, neon, krypton, and xenon were found after a chemical analysis of the water was conducted.
As per Gizmodo, these gases accumulate in the water over time, allowing the researchers to calculate its age. The water also contains trace metals and salt (about eight times the amount found in seawater). “It won’t kill you if you drank it, but it would taste absolutely disgusting,” noted Warr in a CBC article.
The researchers describe the water as an “interconnected fluid system” deep in the Canadian Shield that’s billions of years old and capable of supporting life. “We are just slowly beginning to understand that in fact we are looking at a whole new hydrosphere on the planet,” explained Lollar to the National Post. And indeed, several regions on Earth contain ancient isolated water in geological formations below the surface, Gizmodo said.
Further analysis could reveal the state of the Earth’s atmosphere two billion years ago. Furthermore, the ancient water could shed light on earlier life that existed during the time.