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<p>In Glencore’s Kidd Mine, three kilometres below the surface, scientists discovered water estimated to be 2 billion years old.</p>
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In Glencore’s Kidd Mine, three kilometres below the surface, scientists discovered water estimated to be 2 billion years old.

Two-billion-year-old water discovered at Glencore mine

Canadian scientists have discovered a prehistoric pool of water in the world’s deepest base metal mine, Glencore’s Kidd Mine in Timmins, Ontario. The water is estimated to be 2 billion years old and was found at about three kilometres down. According to University of Toronto geochemist Barbara Sherwood-Lollar, there’s a significant amount.

“When people see this water they assume it must be some tiny amount of water trapped within the rock,” Sherwood-Lollar says. “But in fact it’s very much bubbling right up out at you. These things are flowing at rates of litres per minute – the volume of the water is much larger than anyone anticipated.”

By analyzing dissolved gases in the ancient groundwater, researchers could date it back at least 2 billion years, but it’s the sulphate content of the water that is raising even more interest. The sulphate in the water was produced in place, not brought underground by surface water, meaning these pools could potentially sustain microbial life – vastly expanding potentially habitable areas on the planet, given that billion-year-old rocks make up about half of Earth’s continental crust.