The water found at the bottom of a Canadian mine isn’t just any old water; it’s the world’s oldest water, clocking in at 2 billion years old! So after finding the water, scientists tested it to find out how much it had moved and what minerals were in it. Not only did they find that the water hadn’t moved much from its spot, but they also found an unexpectedly high amount of dissolved minerals.
The World’s Oldest Pool of Water
Imagine a pool of water that’s been around for over two billion years. This is precisely what scientists found at the bottom of a Canadian mine in 2016. It was found about 3 km from the Earth’s surface. The water dated back to the Pleistocene era 2 billion years ago. It knocks 500 million years off the oldest known water, discovered in 2013 by the same team in the same mine at around 2.5 kilometers of depth. Miners are digging deeper and deeper into the Earth’s crust to search for copper, zinc, and silver, making this mine the world’s deepest.
The Age of the Water Determined
When the miners went further into the mine, the researchers had an opportunity to explore it more. First, they analyzed the water trapped there by studying the gases in the water. Sometimes, gases like helium and xenon get trapped in water in rock cracks, and measuring these gases can tell you how old the water is. Moreover, it wasn’t just the incredible age of the water that proved noteworthy. When they analyzed the liquid, they found signs of life within it. Although they haven’t found actual living bacteria, they have discovered essentially the fingerprint of life. From this, they can infer that there was some microbial life within the water, over a long period of time.