It has recently come to light that a geologist in Canada has discovered what might just be the oldest water on Earth. The water sample was collected from a mine in Ontario and has been analyzed by geochemists at the University of Oxford.
As reported by Maclean’s, the geochemist named Barbara Sherwood Lollar sent water samples for testing to a colleague at the University of Oxford. She discovered the water sample while visiting the Glencore-owned Kidd Creek mine. Lollar first went on an expedition to the Kidd Creek back in 1992 and 17 years later, Lollar along with her team extracted what’s being reported as the Earth’s oldest water from 2.4 kilometres underground.
The Kidd Creek mine is located near Timmins in Ontario, Canada. The mine is known to produce copper, zinc, indium, silver-bearing slimes, liquid SO₂, and more. It is owned and operated by a Swiss multinational firm Glencore. In fact, according to Glencore, the Kidd mine is way deeper (3,012m and more) as compared to other base-metal mines in the world. Now, in case you’re wondering how old the water really is, tests and analysis revealed that it’s 1.6 billion years old, which is the oldest ever found on Earth!
The tests conducted involved calculating the radiogenic noble gases like helium and xenon. Moreover, chemolithotrophic microbes of life were also found to exist in the water. These microbes were feasting on hydrogen and sulfate. According to Lollar, the first telltale sign that the liquid discovered is a billion-year-old is its ‘musty smell’. “It literally is following your nose right up to the rock, to find the crack or the fractures where the water is discharging,” said Sherwood Lollar.
According to Lollar, the ancient water might help researchers answer a question that many people have been dying to know the answer to – does life exist on other planets apart from the Earth?