Study reveals new way to reconstruct past climate on Mars

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A study led by a Monash University geologist has provided new evidence for when high rates of erosion have occurred in Mars’ history.

The findings, published today in Geology date when? climate was much more eroding in Mars’ past – with the implication that there were sustained periods when liquid water moved across the planet’s surface.

Scientists have long been eager to understand how Mars moved from a state that may look more like modern Earth to the desolate, inhospitable place it is today.

“If we want to know if there was life on Mars, we need to find the sedimentary… stone record,” said lead study author Dr. Andrew Gunn, of the Monash University School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment.

“Our study determines the timing and rate of sediment erosion and accumulation across Mars’ geologic history in a whole new way, quantifying for the first time a measure of the erodibility of each of the types of rocks we see on the Martian surface,” he said.

“It’s important because we show that the abundance of sand blown by the wind into craters on the surface of Mars can be linked to the planet’s climate history, unlocking a new way of understanding when Mars will move in geological time.” habitable.”

The researchers used multiple data sets to estimate the size of crater sand deposits and what caused them, including geological maps, climate simulations and satellite data† They synthesized and interpreted this data to understand the controls and timing of erosion on Mars.

On Earth and Mars, there is a sedimentary cycle where surface rocks are slowly eroded into sediments, the sediments bury each other, new rocks are created, and the process continues. On Earth, the surface is recycled by tectonics, erasing the old sediments over most of the planet, but on Mars, sediment accumulations on the surface are largely preserved to this day.

The erosion of rocks occurs much faster when they collide in liquid compared to gas because liquids can carry larger, heavier rocks. Produce settle that can be displaced by the wind, it often has to be broken down into smaller particles beforehand by rivers.

“Seeing high accumulation rates at a certain period of Mars’ history indicates that it was much more likely that there were active rivers then eroding material,” said Dr. gunn.

“Sufficient evidence for surface water Mars’ past has been published before – meaning there was liquid water on the surface and an atmosphere to sustain it (i.e. conditions more conducive to life) – but the jury is still out exactly when and how long this happened.”

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More information:
Andrew Gunn et al, Accumulation of wind-blown sand in impact craters on Mars, Geology (2022). DOI: 10.1130/G49936.1

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Monash University

Quote: Study reveals new way to reconstruct past climate on Mars (2022, May 13) retrieved May 14, 2022 from

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