One-billion-year-old water reportedly tastes terrible

Close up of man expressing extreme distaste

When scientists uncovered a pocket of water that had been isolated in rock for somewhere between one billion and 2.46 billion years, they did what anyone with a curious mind would do: they tasted it. One of the researchers, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, described the experience in an interview. To no one’s surprise, it wasn’t pleasant.

What jumps out at you first is the saltiness. Because of the reactions between the water and the rock, it is extremely salty. It is more viscous than tap water. It has the consistency of a very light maple syrup. It doesn't have color when it comes out, but as soon as it comes into contact with oxygen it turns an orangey color because the minerals in it begin to form — especially the iron.

I have to admit I have tasted it from time to time. It tastes terrible. It is much saltier than seawater. You would definitely not want to drink this stuff.

We are interested in the saltiest waters because they are the oldest, and tasting is the quick-and-dirty way to find which are the most salty. I don't let the students do it, though. [Los Angeles Times]

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