Oldest water on Earth found bubbling up from ancient Ontario oasis — 2.6 billion years old
Miners drilling deep underground in northern Ontario have long known about the sparkling salty water.
It’s been bubbling out of the rocks beneath their feet since the 1880s, but no one really appreciated the significance — until now.
An international research team reported Wednesday that miners near Timmins are tapping into an ancient underground oasis that may harbour prehistoric microbes. The water flowing out of fractures and bore holes in one mine near Timmins dates back more than a billion years, perhaps 2.6 billion, making it the oldest water known to exist on Earth, says the team that details the discovery in the journal Nature.
“This is the oldest [water] anybody has been able to pull out, and quite frankly, it changes the playing field,” says geologist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, at the University of Toronto, who co-led the team. (Barbara Sherwood Lollar)