Barbara Sherwood Lollar of the University of Toronto hold a jar of the world's oldest water. She is the recipient of the 2019 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for her work on ancient Earth water. (Martin Lipman/NSERC)

Honours for Canadian discoverer of world’s oldest water


A University of Toronto researcher has been awarded one of Canada’s top science prizes for her work related to the discovery of the oldest water on Earth.

Earth sciences professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar has just been awarde the 2019 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering presented by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

In 2013, Canadian researchers descended over 2.5 kilometers deep into the Earth at a mine in northern Ontario

After discovering leaking water rising up onto the mine floor at 2.5 km depth, a shaft 3 km down revealed even older water. (University of Toronto-via CBC)

They were looking for water.  They had been told it was salt water, which they thought was very interesting and odd since the mine was in an area surrounded by fresh water sources.

NSERC video interview

Deep in the mine they found what was believed to be the oldest water in the world at over a billion years old. Lollar said that at the time is was the strange musty smell that caused her to think this was indeed very special water.

Then in 2016 they drilled down to about three kilometres depth and discovered even older and very salty water at about two billion years old. The age was determined through chemical analysis of the components and trace elements in the water.

Red pointer indicates location of Kidd Creek mine at Timmins, Ontario where the oldest water was found. It's about 300 km north of Sudbury, and over 700 km NW of the national capital Ottawa. (Google maps)

Red pointer indicates location of Kidd Creek mine at Timmins, Ontario where the oldest water was found. It’s about 300 km north of Sudbury, and over 700 km NW of the national capital Ottawa. (Google maps)

RCI: Dec 2016: World’s oldest water, even older

Later studies showed there were signs of microbial life that exists without light and oxygen and derive their energy from chemical reactions.

This has heightened interest in the possibility of life on other planets where water may exist under the surface, and lately especially Europa, a moon around Jupiter, and Enceladus, a moon around Saturn.

While both have icy crusts, Enceladus is believed to have vents spraying water into space from an underground ocean.

Working with NASA, she is quoted in the CBC, she said  “One of the major themes of planetary science is that we use the Earth to understand processes that might be going on on other planets,” Sherwood Lollar said. “And so the work we do … has direct relevance for what we do when we go out to search for processes on other planets.”

Additional information-sources

Categories: Environment, Internet, Science and Technology
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.