Scientists from the Canadian university have uncovered water that they estimate is around two billion years old. As the oldest water ever discovered on Earth, it could improve our understanding of our planet’s prehistoric atmosphere and the origins of life.
“When people think about this water they assume it must be some tiny amount of water trapped within the rock,” Barbara Sherwood Lollar told the BBC. “But in fact it’s very much bubbling right up out at you.”
You wouldn’t exactly want to drink from this bubbler, though.
The water is up to eight times saltier than seawater, and likely has some trace metals in it, researchers told the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
“It won’t kill you if you drank it, but it would taste absolutely disgusting,” postdoctoral researcher Oliver Warr told the CBC.
So it’s not Evian, but team members are still bottling it, at least enough to
explore the fascinating scientific secrets locked inside its molecules.
“Everything about the water is brand new,” Warr told the CBC. “We are seeing signals in all isotopes that we’ve identified so far that we’ve never seen anywhere else.”
The researchers have found chemical traces left behind by tiny single-celled organisms that once lived in the fluid, the BBC reports.
“The microbes that produced this signature couldn’t have done it overnight,” dollar told the channel. “This isn’t just a signature of very modern microbiology. This has to be an indication that organisms have been present in these fluids on a geological timescale.”
Warr told the CBC that the water may well provide clues to the state of Earth and the planet’s atmosphere 2 billion years ago, about which, understandably, very little is known.
“It could start paving the way for understanding life on other planets as well.”