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Stable Isotope Lab/University of Toronto

Strange microbes found in Earth’s oldest water

A discovery in Canada hints at a yet-unknown world beneath our feet. Scientists have found microbes that live on sulfate more than 1.5 kilometers beneath Earth’s surface in water that has been trapped in fractures in the rock for hundreds of millions of years, The Scientist reports. The researchers cultivated the microbes from Kidd Creek mine, a nearly 3-kilometer-deep copper and zinc mine in Ontario in Canada that holds the oldest-known water on the planet, they reported last month in the Geomicrobiology Journal. The microbes reinforce the Jules Verne–esque theory that there is a thriving biosphere deep within Earth’s seemingly inhospitable crust that has little or no interaction with the life on the surface.

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