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back to article Boffins find world's oldest virgin water trapped in Earth's crust

A team of British and Canadian scientists think they've found the oldest water sealed off from the Earth's atmosphere hidden deep in the Earth's crust, and estimate it is between 1.5 and 2.67 billion years old. Old Water How long before Perrier tries to flog this? The researchers analyzed water welling up from boreholes …

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Coat

Silurians 2.0?

Ok, ok, I've got my coat. The lizard skin one.

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Re: Silurians 2.0?

I don't think so. Apparantly its pre-cambrian life forms they're searching for - underground - that can mean only one thing:

Graboids!

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Facepalm

Re: Silurians 2.0?

I was thinking more along the lines of "The waters of Mars".

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Bronze badge

Re: Silurians 2.0?

Where is Kevin Bacon when you need him?

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Boffin

Boffinspeek galore

"tectonically quiescent geologic terrains ... with serpentinized ultramafic rocks"

Huh?

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Re: Boffinspeek galore

Serpentinised: The serpentine group describes a group of common rock-forming hydrous magnesium iron phyllosilicate minerals.

Ultramafic: Ultramafic (also referred to as ultrabasic) rocks are igneous and meta-igneous rocks with very low silica content (less than 45%), generally >18% MgO, high FeO, low potassium, and are composed of usually greater than 90% mafic minerals (dark colored, high magnesium and iron content). The Earth's mantle is composed of ultramafic rocks.

So basically; normal rocks with some specific mineral formations thrown in.

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Boffin

Re: Boffinspeek galore

Or even more "like I'm 5"

The earth has large plates that move around - we call the plates with bits of land on top 'continents'. Geologists think of these plates as roofs over the mantle and, being boffins, use ancient Greek to show off their knowledge. Tectonic simply means things of or relating to a building. Indeed, the word 'Architect' originally meant chief builder.

As the continents come together mountains are formed like the Himalayas and the Andes. Sometimes forces from deep inside the earth cause a continent to break up - we can see such a break up happening right now in Africa's great Rift Valley. Some parts of the plates we currently have have (miraculously) remained pretty much untouched for billions of years - these areas contain really old rocks and are so distinctive they have a special name 'cratons'. Central Africa, Australia and Canada have such ancient 'terrains'. They can also more confusingly be called "tectonically quiescent (no mountain building or continental break-ups) geologic terrains".

Ultramafic rocks are very similar to those deep below the crust in the mantle - they are harder and denser than the lighter rocks on or near the earth's surface (like sandstone and granite). They are unlikely to have been from volcanoes spewing lava (since only the un-ultra-mafic chemicals melt to form lava), and so come from deep down inside a volcano.

When you pass water through ultra-mafic rocks the crystals slowly 'rust' and turning green and brown. In the middle ages, the colour and texture made people think of a snake, and so called the rock serpentine.

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Boffin

Re: Boffinspeek galore

Just to add:

1) 'Shield', 'terrain' and 'craton' are all pretty much interchangeable (to a five year old geologist)

2) What the geologists are saying is that the water that passed through into the underground ultra-mafic rocks got trapped billions of years ago (evidence: quantity of and isotopic ratios of Xenon to other stuff. Xenon comes from the radioactive decay of Uranium/Thorium in the ultra-mafic rocks). The water reacted with the rocks (evidence: serpentine). The water contains reducing gasses that *could* be a food for bacteria which would oxidise the gasses using the rocks.

3) A biome is a self-contained volume where life does its life-stuff. In this case the waters and any life in it have been sealed off from the outside world for billions of years, and by virtue of being sealed off, it is in a different biome from us (or at least *was* in a different biome until some dirty engineers drilled a non-sterile hole into it)

4) Mars has some terrains (or shields if you will) just like the ones on earth

5) If i) this could happen on earth, and ii) there was life on Mars, then iii) it's possible that a ultra-mafic/serpentine/water biome has kept life (well) alive on Mars until now

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Re: Boffinspeek galore

Just a couple of additional points.

Ultramafic eruptions were common in the Archaean (which ended 2.5Gya) although they continued into the Neoproterozoic. There are still some ultramafic eruptions in and around the North West Pacific.

Serpentinite is the product of hydrous metamorphism of ultramafics at low temperatures. You can see some lovely examples at the Lizard in Cornwall where a slice of the ocean crust and the upper Mantle (an ophiolite) has been pushed up over the Cornish slates and shales.

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Re: Boffinspeek galore

''Shield', 'terrain' and 'craton' are all pretty much interchangeable (to a five year old geologist)'

Is this a misprint of 'terrane' which is a slice of crust (of any age) which has been docked with another section of crust by subduction or continental collision?

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bottle it

and make sure the label says "fresh".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bottle it

Yeah but the article already says its potentially a billion years past its "best enjoyed by" date...

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Re: bottle it

As long as it's been stored properly - see the label: Store in a cool, dry, place.

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Thumb Up

Freeze it

A good quality scotch + 1.5~ Billion year old ice

Lovely.

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Thumb Down

Heretic!

How well does scotch mix with ice? About as well as the Titanic.

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Re: Freeze it

Each to their own. You can keep your ice but I'll take mine with a splash of 1.5 billion year vintage water.

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Go

The corner shop near me...

... Has some brand-you've-never-heard-of cheap mineral water older than this.

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Coat

serpentinized ultramafic rocks!

F**K yeah!

Their new album "Smell the Love" is out now

<== the black one please

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Pint

The perfect gift . . .

. . . for a fitness and food fanatic.

"This water is so pure it comes from a source that is older than humans"

"Hidden from you for over a million years, we exclusively bring you (insert ridiculous name here) at only £2000 a 500ml bottle"

"Drink the history of the planet"

[tm registered to Coca Cola]

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Pirate

Re: The perfect gift . . .

[tm registered to Coca Cola]

Unlikely. When Coca Cola launched a bottled water brand in Britain it was soon revealed that the contents were actually tap water, from Surbiton, if I remember correctly. It wasn't long after that that the brand was withdrawn.

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Happy

At least nobody peed in there.

The rest of this planet's water has been disgustingly recycled through the bladders of lifeforms you don't even want to imagine.

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WTF?

Re: The perfect gift . . .

You mean Dasani? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasani

It's still going strong in America (USA and Canada), and is just treated tap water.

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FAIL

Re: The perfect gift . . .

Worked in woolies when Coke Cola released Dasini water, it was tap water with a few additives one of which was bromide. The concentrations were similar to those we gave to WW2 soldiers to reduce their libidos and at that level were found to cause bowel cancer.*

*This was the explanations we were given from Woolies HQ when they asked us to pour it down the drain. Woolies HQ were not well regarded since they seemed actually clueless on how to layout a store and how people actually bought stuff. I remember 3 years before their demise being asking in a staff questionnaire if I could see Woolworths existing in 5 years. Apparently so many people answered no, they thought it best to reissue the questionnaire without the question, so take the story with a pinch of salt.

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Piece of cake

So all they have to do on Mars is find a zinc and copper mine 1.5 miles deep, get to the bottom in one piece, then drill boreholes. Should be a piece of cake for the Curiosity rover.

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Re: Piece of cake

nah, it will bore a hole with its laser of course!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Piece of cake

> So all they have to do on Mars is find a zinc and copper mine 1.5 miles deep

2) install a giant potato

3) hook up the electrodes

4) free electricity!

5) Profit!

hmmm... wrong forum :)

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Virgin water...

Will it taste as awful as virgin cola?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Virgin water...

nothing can taste as bad as virgin cola

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Devil

I wonder if the bacteria in them holes ever thinks.....

"Damn, I am 300,000 million years old, stuck way underground in the wet dark rock... never ever likely to reach the surface and turn into something green.... and then furry and on legs...

Will the earth get smashed through with another giant meteor? Just like we did when we lived on Marrs?

Will the tektonic plates push me to the surface one day?

Hmmmmm sometime in the next billion years I'd like to meet another germ, instead of self replicating.

So here am I in the Campervan age, looking forward to the Plasticine error.

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Re: I wonder if the bacteria in them holes ever thinks.....

its sitting down there thinking "If only there were some fleshy bags of water to live, feed and eat in"

Death from above nope.........tiny new bugs sitting waiting to be released upon an unsuspecting world.. Mmm I feel a Hollywood B movie script coming on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wonder if the bacteria in them holes ever thinks.....

Meh, its been done.

Also, this bag of water has an immune system that's been honed by half a billion years of slaughtering the cousins of any hypothetical underground underwater primitives. Seriously, I'm largely made of weapons-grade death soup, as far as those guys are concerned. The odds are definitely in my favour.

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Silver badge

Re: I wonder if the bacteria in them holes ever thinks.....

Indeed, the ones that have been around for a while and have done a few rounds with penicillin and it's descendants are the more worrying.

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Pint

Re: I wonder if the bacteria in them holes ever thinks.....

I thought it was "ugly bags of mostly water".

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Boffin

Re: I wonder if the bacteria in them holes ever thinks.....

+1 for the TNG reference

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Pint

How many billion?

Crikey water that's nearly 6000 years old.. but have they found people living with dinosaurs next to it like it says they did in the bible.. I mean the Flint Stones.. nvm..

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Silver badge
Pint

Stop The Presses...

Turns out it's just 3-week-old waste "Fracking Fluid" from a mile up the road.

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Beasties

Let's hope there are no nasty hitherto unknown beastie bacterias lurking locally, ready to leap out and destroy mankind!

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Anonymous Coward

Shania Twain

...former resident of Timmins.

http://www.shaniatwain.com/bio.html

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