oldest water on Earth: A scientist who had found the oldest known water on Earth decided the best course of action was to drink it.
In 2016, Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar led a team of geologists studying a mine in Canada that made this remarkable discovery.
According to the tests, the flowing water, about three kilometers below the surface of the Earth, was between 1.5 and 2.6 billion years old, making it the oldest water found on Earth.
Professor Sherwood Lollar said: “When people think about this water, they imagine that there must be a small amount of water trapped inside the rock.
“But it’s actually spinning really hard at you. These things are flowing at liters per minute – a lot more water volume than anyone would have predicted.
After tasting the ancient water, he found that it was “very salty and bitter” and “much saltier than seawater”.
This was an encouraging sign, as saltier water is usually older. In this case, where water has aged for billions of years, it is not surprising.
“If you’re a geologist who works with rocks, you’ve probably licked a lot of rocks,” Sherwood Lollar said.
His team also discovered that life once existed in the water by observing sulfates – a salt compound – in the water.
We were able to show that the signal we see in the fluids must have been produced by microbiology – and most importantly it must have been produced over a very long time scale.
“The microbes that created the artifacts in the water couldn’t have done it overnight.
This should be an indication of the presence of living organisms in these fluids on geological time scales.
Fortunately, the scientist didn’t have any horrible sci-fi movie reactions to drinking the ancient water and lived to tell the tale.
This article was published in Nature in 2016.