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Research by Professor Chris Ballentine of the Department of Earth Sciences has been published in Nature.

Nature reports that 'Earth's deep crust could support widespread life. Ancient rocks deep in Earth’s crust are producing much more hydrogen gas than previously thought — a situation on a par with conditions near hydrothermal vents, which host thriving ecosystems'.

There is also coverage on BBC Online where Professor Ballentine is quoted, "The biggest surprise for me was how old this water is. That water is down there is no surprise - water will percolate down into the rock porosity. But for it to be preserved and kept there for so long is a surprise. So when you think about what's down beneath your feet, it's more exciting than just some rock".

"Until our most recent work, the hydrogen production in the continental crust was calculated to be negligible: close to zero. This was very wrong and our work shows the hydrogen production in the continental crust to be the equal to that produced in the oceanic crust. This doubles the estimate of hydrogen produced on Earth."

Read an interview with Professor Ballentine on the University's Science Blog

Find out more about Professor Ballentine.