Tech UPTechnology1,200-year-old underground water discovered

1,200-year-old underground water discovered


In 2006, a team of scientists made a great discovery: the discovery of the oldest pool of water in the world in the depths of a Canadian mine. At approximately 3 kilometers deep, the water was an impressive 2 billion years old.

Now, a team of international researchers has discovered 1.2 billion-year-old groundwater 2.9 km below the Earth’s surface at a uranium-gold mine in Moab Khotsong, South Africa, according to the study published in the journal Nature Communications. It has been precisely the same team that has found water at a similar depth in the Moab Khotsong gold and uranium mine in South Africa.

The new discovery could allow us to better understand how hydrogen and helium are produced deep within our planet, and could also provide clues as to how life survives in some of the deepest, darkest corners of the Earth, and why not. , about the processes that may allow microbial life to thrive on distant planets.


A ‘Pandora’s box’

One of the scientists behind the discovery described it as a “Pandora’s box of helium and hydrogen production power” that can be used to our advantage. The discovery of groundwater allowed research scientists to analyze a process that produces helium and hydrogen deep below the Earth’s surface.

“For the first time, we have an idea of how energy stored deep in the Earth’s subsurface may be released and distributed more widely through its crust over time,” says Oliver Warr, a research associate in the Department of Science at Land of the University of Toronto and lead author of the study. “Think of it as a Pandora’s Box of helium and hydrogen-producing energy, one that we can learn to harness for the benefit of the deep biosphere on a global scale.”

Difficult conditions for life

For many creatures, most really, the Sun is still the main source of energy. Exceptions include life forms that live around hydrothermal vents on the sea floor and microbes that live off hydrogen deep underground.

The great age of water is not the only important discovery. When the researchers analyzed the liquid, they found traces of life inside. While they have yet to find actual living bacteria, what they discovered was, in effect, the fingerprint of life.

Based on this discovery, we have further evidence that ancient and exceptionally deep habitat sites may be quite abundant. The waters below Moab Khotsong have higher concentrations of elements produced by radioactive decay than ever before, and some of them offer opportunities for life.

The researchers said their study is vital to understanding the role these processes play in the spread of microbial life, especially since similar processes could be occurring on distant planets with similar elemental compositions. Their research could provide vital information for future missions to Mars, Titan and Europa.

Referencia: Warr, O., Ballentine, C.J., Onstott, T.C. et al. 86Kr excess and other noble gases identify a billion-year-old radiogenically-enriched groundwater system. Nat Commun 13, 3768 (2022).

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