Billion-Year-Old Water Preserved in Canadian Mine

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Pockets of water trapped in rocks from a Canadian mine are over a billion years old, and the water could contain life forms that can survive independently from the sun, scientists said this week.

The ancient water was collected from boreholes at Timmins Mine beneath Ontario, Canada, at a depth of about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers).

Water filters out of the floor of a Canadian mine.

"When these rocks formed, this part of Canada was the ocean floor," said study co-author*Barbara Sherwood Lollar, an Earth scientist at Canada's University of Toronto.

"When we go down [into the mine] with students, we like to say imagine you're walking on the seafloor 2.6 billion years ago."

Working with U.K. colleagues Chris Ballentine and Greg Holland, Sherwood Lollar and her team found that the water was rich in dissolved gases such as hydrogen and methane, which could provide energy for microbes like those found around hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean.

In addition, the water contained different rare gases that include the elements helium, neon, argon, and xenon, which were created through interactions with the surrounding radioactive rock. By measuring the concentrations of isotopes of these "noble gases"

Billion-Year-Old Water Preserved in Canadian Mine