Water Trapped For 1.5 Billion Years Could Hold Ancient Life
This map, from the United States Geological Survey, shows the age of bedrock in different regions of North America. Scientists found ancient water in bedrock north of Lake Superior. This region, colored red, was formed more than 2.5 billion years ago.
Scientists have discovered water that has been trapped in rock for more than a billion years. The water might contain microbes that evolved independently from the surface world, and it's a finding that gives new hope to the search for life on other planets.
The water samples came from holes drilled by gold miners near the small town of Timmins, Ontario, about 350 miles north of Toronto. Deep in the Canadian bedrock, miners drill holes and collect samples. Sometimes they hit pay dirt; sometimes they hit water, which seeps out from tiny crevices in the rock.
Recently, a team of scientists (who had been investigating water samples from other mines) approached the miners and asked them for fluid from newly drilled boreholes.
Greg Holland, a geochemist at Lancaster University in England, and his colleagues wanted to know just how long that fluid had been trapped in the rock. So they looked at the decay of radioactive atoms found in the water and calculated that it had been bottled up for a long time — at least 1.5 billion years.
"That is the lower limit for the age," Holland says. It could be a billion years older. That means the water was sealed in the rock before humans evolved, before pterosaurs flew and before multicellular life.
Source and more