facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Water bubbling deep in Canadian mine may be oldest on Earth

May 15, 2013 at 5:59 PM   |   Comments

TIMMINS, Ontario, May 15 (UPI) -- A reservoir deep underground in Canada holds water that may be 1 billion years old, possibly the oldest water on Earth, researchers say.

Trapped 1 1/2 miles underground and isolated for untold time, the water contains high levels of methane and hydrogen that could sustain microbial life, they said.

While micrometer-scale pockets in minerals billions of years old can hold water that was trapped during the minerals' formation, no source of free-flowing water passing through interconnected cracks or pores in Earth's crust has previously been shown to have stayed isolated for more than tens of millions of years, researchers at the University of Manchester in Britain said.

But the researchers determined the water captured from fractures in 2.7-billion-year-old sulfide deposits in a copper and zinc mine near Timmins, Ontario, couldn't have contacted Earth's atmosphere for at least 1 billion years, and possibly for as long as 2.64 billion years, Nature reported Wednesday.

"We were expecting these fluids to be possibly tens, perhaps even hundreds of millions of years of age," Manchester geochemist Chris Ballentine said. In collecting the water the researchers took pains to ensure it did not come in contact with mine air, he said.

The isolated water supply, Ballentine said, provides "secluded biomes, ecosystems, in which life, you can speculate, might have even originated."

Ballentine and his colleagues said they are now working to establish whether the water does harbor life.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
trending
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
1
Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges
2
Latvia boasts world's first net for migrating bats
3
Neanderthals and humans interacted for thousands of years
4
Fish can smell a bad coral reef
5
NEC touts its fingerprint technology
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback