Leeds scientists are to investigate the birthplace of life – sea water billions of years old – with new high-tech laser equipment, the first of its kind in the UK.
The ancient sea water is found trapped in tiny pockets – called fluid inclusions – within crystals such as emerald and quartz. The oldest known examples are found in the rock 3.8 billion years old – the oldest land on the planet. Although liquid water is believed to have existed on earth over 4 billion years ago, obtaining samples from that time is impossible.
The Leeds scientists are using quartz formed from lava flow under the sea, which hasn’t been affected by geological processes, ensuring the pockets of water remain exactly as they were when the rock was formed. They are analysing rock from 3.8 to 3.2 billion years ago, to see how the sea changed during that time and how that might have affected the first life forms.
Abigail Chard | alfa
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