2.6-Billion-Year-Old Water Found in Reservoirs Under Canada

By Gemma Tarlach | May 15, 2013 12:39 pm

Outcrop of banded gneiss in the Canadian shield. Image courtesy of LesPalenik/Shutterstock

Newly discovered water trapped more than a mile below ground in Canada could be billions of years old — and could hold clues both to Earth’s past climate and possible habitats for life on Mars.

A research team reporting today in Nature has found pockets of subterranean water that could be as old as 2.64 billion years. The fluids are located 1.5 miles underground in a mine near Timmins, Ontario, in rock that is part of Canada’s Precambrian Shield, the oldest part of North America’s crust.

The Timmins site is comprised of layers of volcanic and sedimentary deposits and is relatively undeformed by forces such as erosion or seismic activity, which factored into the water’s preservation. The amounts and types of gases — such as xenon — found in the ancient water reflect the atmospheric conditions at the time they were last exposed to surface air, potentially creating a kind of snapshot of what climactic conditions were like billions of years ago.

The water is also as rich in hydrogen gas as hydrothermal vent environments, which are often home to unique and thriving ecosystems. The study’s researchers suggest this may have made the underground environment conducive to life, though no evidence confirming their hypothesis has yet been found.

Researchers studying the Timmins site note that Mars, too, is dominated by tectonically stable terrain, similar to Canada’s Precambrian Shield. They suggest similar ancient subterranean reservoirs may also exist on the Red Planet, and could be capable of harboring life. The researchers claim the discovery of the Timmins reservoir could cause scientists to rethink habitable zones on a planet, as well as what role isolated underground reservoirs may play in the preservation and evolution of life.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts
MORE ABOUT: geology, water
  • GodoStoyke

    “Climactic” conditions? What does this have to do with sex? :-) You probably mean “climatic”.

    • 2setw


      • SixSixSix

        Easy for you to say.

    • http://twitter.com/jamesshannon James Shannon

      Come again? 😉

  • anakin.s@163.com


  • inyb

    This is amazing, if there is life it would interesting to see evolutionary tracks if we could compare with similar microbes in untrapped waters.

  • Plenum

    Cool news, all of it.

  • Michael Sirbola

    At last some good solid peripheral evidence that LIFE will be found on the MOON underground — really. Think about it.

    Look at the high resolution old Moon photo’s now on-line, zoom into the footprints — see those spikey-things – yes, they are there (There is a distortion that causes something similar as a result of the algorithm used to condense the transmitted signal, however, signal processing artifacts don’t leave shadows, note that the the mini-spikes do have shadows, and always in the correct direction too.).

    They are electrostatic artifacts, and real – so… Now that it is established that there apparently are “persons” in charge of “information” that have no qualms about silencing whatever suits their fancy, such as these spikes, what else might they have left out?

    Lets presume most of the nutty on-line stuff about Mars life is “seeded” by an aggressive counter-intelligence black-ops propaganda machine (peek-a-boo-A-S-U!), that also orchestrates “coincidences” that make simple searches by the average person less productive, such as the naming of TV shows such as “Mars Life” – Yeah, right, suuure.

    In the cold war days one worried of alien bugs from space, the Moon, or Mars that might be used as weapons or for some type of new technology or medicine that might give us a head start over our enemies the Russians – the Russians, of course, had the exact same mirrored thoughts, only with us (U.S.) as the “bad guy” and aggressor “enemy.”

    The outfit that does the robotic arms on the Mars rovers always has it’s finger on the “off” button and a direct phone line to….??? – this veto is shared with the higher-ups at the military-side of JPL and through them the entire entire high-tech-end of the military industrial complex, as represented by the air force and associated aerospace industries and their significant influence, seem complicit.

    The USSR actually tried to launch living bacteria chosen specifically to survive the rigors of space travel, right at Mars, no kidding – it fortunately didn’t make it out of Earth orbit, something might have “accidentally” bumped into it, or? –

    A big Phew! – Close call! For poor little salt-brine-ey Mars n Moon critters!. 😉

    • Peristroika

      Your “logic” is horribly flawed. And you see conspiracy in your own underwear skid marks. Take it somewhere else. But consider applying your vast intellect to something …well, ANYTHING more useful.

      • Michael Sirbola

        To be clear, the only “logic” applied to there being LIFE ON THE MOON – and the mini e-spikes are there, go look on Nasa’s (hidden in plain) site;

        MINI-SPIKES IN MOON FOOTPRINTS! Further, their electromagnetic nature are published without mentioning them specifically, just as “other anomalies!”

        The rest was conjecture – the rest certainly does seem, and one would hope would be, and is, unlikely.Russia did try to launch a boatload of bug at Mars’ moon, reasons clear in the event of a crash, to aim for it later… to “see if they survive in space” is the kind of thing you arrange with a kindergarten class because you have some time and space to fill on the mission and the promotional honcho’s inform you that you are doing.

        One in a hundred of the Mars anomaly pictures and sites are worthwhile, eighty of these 99 all come from, are related directly to just two or three sites – Go look for yourself.

        Pure silliness. But there ARE real anomalies… I’m not saying “life” I’m saying, WOW what the heck is that life-like looking thing…. many of these from the rovers, not so much the hirise imager – It’s just too high, although there seems to be a great deal of silly things “seen” and published online – a “group” of material actually, it has the appearance of, is all that I am saying.

        That, and I’ve seen some pretty odd things, life-like, not electromagnetic artifacts (this time) that I’ve heard zero in the media about (as before)… and it makes one wonder is all.

        AND BESIDES…
        Even were I a hippie-science-slogan numb-skull, especially then, why bother responding to such a one, lest thou art one thyself perhaps? Smile sourpuss!


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Briefing you on the must-know news and trending topics in science and technology today.

See More

Collapse bottom bar