Have you ever thought about how old water is? If not, you are probably in the majority. Water regularly cycles through our atmosphere by evaporating and condensing. The global amount typically remains roughly the same as molecules form and reform. However, some reservoirs of H20 have been isolated from this cyclical process. Researchers from the University of Toronto discovered pools of ancient water in a deep Canadian mine. The water is well over one billion years old!
Canadian mine researchers happened upon the ancient liquid in 2016; nearly two miles beneath the surface, they found water dating to around two billion years ago. This water was the oldest uncovered by at least 500 million years. The previous record was set by the same researchers in 2013 in Kidd Mine in Ontario.
Scientists can date the water by analyzing gases such as helium, neon, argon, and xenon dissolved within. The groundwater flows slowly and contains gasses gleaned from the cracks in surrounding rocks. “When people think about this water they assume it must be some tiny amount of water trapped within the rock,” Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar stated. “But in fact, it’s very much bubbling right up out at you. These things are flowing at rates of liters per minute—the volume of the water is much larger than anyone anticipated.”
The ancient water has also produced signs of past “micro” life. While no living bacteria are yet discovered, the ability of the water to sustain life suggests that other subterranean water on Mars and perhaps other planets may harbor signs of life.