News / Toronto

World's oldest water discovered in Ontario mine

The samples, which are at least two billion years old, date back to when "the earth was still becoming the earth as we know it," researchers say.

University of Toronto researchers extract water samples from a mine in Timmins, Ont., three kilometres below the surface.

Contributed

University of Toronto researchers extract water samples from a mine in Timmins, Ont., three kilometres below the surface.

Deep in the bowels of a mine in Timmins, researchers from the University of Toronto have discovered the world’s oldest water.

And even after more than two billion years, it’s safe to drink.

“It’s safe, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s eight times more saline than seawater … and full of interesting heavy metals that can disagree with humans,” said Oliver Warr, one of the researchers who led the latest expedition into the mine.

Back in 2013, the team discovered samples in the same mine that were dated at least one billion years old. However, more recent samples from deeper in the mine have proven to be twice as old.

The ancient H20 predates dinosaurs by over one billion years, and was present when “the Earth was still becoming the Earth as we know it,” Warr said. “It’s like a time capsule for geochemical data.”

As a result, the water can offer clues about the formation of the earth, and the very beginnings of life on the planet.

“It’s incredible that water can have residence on the earth at this kind of scale,” Warr said. 

More on Metronews.ca