New Zealand scientists find hot water deep in an earthquake fault

Rob Griffith / AP

New Zealand scientists recently found unexpectedly hot water while drilling into an earthquake fault in the country, according to a new study in Nature.

Why it matters: The 100-degree Celsius water, which would boil on the surface but remains a liquid because it is under pressure, could be used to generate electricity or provide direct heating. The Alpine Fault where it was found stretches for hundreds of miles — and is one of the most active earthquake faults in the world — but it is unclear how easy it would be to extract energy.

Why it's surprising: Usually geothermal energy is found around volcanic activity, but there aren't any volcanoes nearby where the researchers were drilling.