Billion year old water could harbor early life.

From the National Post.

An international research team reported Wednesday that miners near Timmins are tapping into an ancient underground oasis that may harbour prehistoric microbes. The water flowing out of fractures and bore holes in one mine near Timmins dates back more than a billion years, perhaps 2.6 billion, making it the oldest water known to exist on Earth, says the team that details the discovery in the journal Nature.

This water doesn’t predate life on Earth–we think life first appeared around 3.5B years ago–but it suggests that life may have originated below the Earth’s surface, where it would have been protected from UV radiation from the Sun. Before the evolution of bluegreen algae and the subsequent increase of atmospheric oxygen necessary to form the ozone layer which today protects the Earth’s surface from harmful amounts of UV radiation, life would have been restricted to the oceans. And now, perhaps underground as well. If ancient living organisms are found in the isolated underground water… I find this simply amazing to contemplate.

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