Ancient ocean in pockets. 390-million-year-old water bubbles found in New York rocks

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Ancient ocean in pockets. About 390 million years old water bubbles were found in the rocks of New York

These tiny remnants of ancient water “remember” large armored fish, ammonites and giant sea scorpions.

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Scientists have discovered small pockets of water that have been trapped in rocks for over 390 million years. While this may not be the oldest water sample scientists have ever seen, it is believed to be the tiniest remains of ancient seas ever studied, writes Science Alert.

Hidden ancient sea water was once home to large armored fish, ammonites and giant sea scorpions with trilobites. Scientists discovered it in iron pyrite rocks in upstate New York while researching the leaching of toxic arsenic from rocks.

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Sandra Taylor, a geochemist at the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), said the scientists observed tiny defects in the form of spherical clusters of pyrite crystals (framboids) while studying the rocks.

The researchers used a combination of methods, including atomic probe tomography and mass spectrometry to confirm that the fluid contained in ancient rocks was actually salt water and matched the profile of an ancient inland sea.

Note that the size of the framboid deposits was less than 10 micrometers, which makes them the smallest remnants of ancient seas ever studied by scientists. However, even this small amount of water was enough to understand that it belongs to the Middle Devonian period. Thus, scientists received one more proof that almost 400 million years ago, in the territory of modern Michigan and to Ontario in Canada, an ancient inland sea extended.

It is assumed that its reef could well compete in size with the Great Barrier reef in Australia.

Note that minerals and gems often contain trapped liquids, but they can rarely be analyzed at the nanoscale. Discoveries of this kind typically require rock salt or halite, but now scientists have found a similar method for pyrite.

The new find is expected to help scientists better understand how the ancient climate changed, which dried up the inland sea . This will help researchers understand how the ocean has dealt with warming temperatures in the past and provide insight into how we should adjust our program to combat global warming.