Drilling more than two kilometers into the ground beneath Canada, geologists have struck gold or in this case water!
Not any normal ground water but a pocket of flowing water that is atleast 1.5 billion years old and could be as old as 2.6 billion years, and isolated from anything else on earth.
The cycle of water theory suggests that the amount of water is always constant on earth. Scientists have felt pretty good about the knowledge of where it all is. So finding water locked deep under bedrock, slowly seeping out of tunnels that gold miners were digging for in Canada, was certainly a surprise. It reveals how much we really do not know about our Earth.
Water, Is That All?
Testing the age of water is not simple. So how do they really know that the water is over 1.5 billions years old? Scientists checked the isotopes of hydrogen and helium found in water. In this case, the isotopes were quite old. The scientists put the number at 1.5 billion years, but it could be older - by a magnitude of another billion, according to geochemist Greg Holland who led the testing. These waters were very likely a remnant of ancient oceans before it was covered by today’s landmass.
Yet it’s not the water that really interests scientists. Locked with that ancient water may be single-celled microbes that have pretty much been living as if on a different planet for nearly half of Earth’s existence! That’s longer than humans have lived on Earth. They would even pre-date the dinosaurs by more than 750 million years.
Another Era, Another Life
Why does it matter? Scientists are extremely excited about the find because water supports the existence of life. If they are able to detect life in the samples, it may help us understand how life evolved in a closed ecosystem and help us understand our Earth's natural history.
Could these microbes be some of the first aliens humans have discovered, and very much on our own planet? Studying life in these waters may also give us more closer knowledge of just how much life there could be locked underground on other planets such as Mars where telltale signs of water tracts have been observed.
Courtesy: BBC, Science News