Gas that bubbles out of the floor in a deep mine has a chemical composition that can provide the food source for microbes living in deep ancient fluids underground. (Credit: J Telling/Handout)
Scientists have made an amazing discovery deep inside the Canadian Shield - one that goes back billions of years.
It’s a reservoir of water located in a mine in Timmins, Ontario, that is the oldest free-flowing water ever found.
Canadian and British scientists say it’s been trapped there for 1.5 billion to 2.64 billion years (back when oxygen breathing life first appeared on the planet), and hasn’t come into contact with Earth’s atmosphere since.
“It’s exciting on about five different levels,” said Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Toronto who was involved in the discovery.
“It’s like finding another world,” she told The Globe & Mail.
It’s believed the water was once on the surface, perhaps in an ocean that disappeared, and then seeped through the ground where it became trapped.
Scientists found it 2.4 kilometres underground in a copper and zinc mine. They say the water is rich in dissolved gases such as methane and hydrogen - two elements that support life, and in theory, could have helped some types of micro-organisms survive.
This is beyond cool.