Researchers discovered evidence of an ancient lake on Mars

Aug 13, 2015 17:59 IST

A team of researchers from University of Colorado have discovered an evidence of presence of an ancient lake on Mars. The findings of the research titled Late-stage formation of Martian chloride salts through ponding and evaporation were published in journal Geology on 5 August 2015.

As per the research, small deposits of chloride salts have been documented at hundreds of locations on Mars through the use of multispectral orbital data. Given the small spatial extent of these deposits, their formation mechanisms, timing and relation to other aqueous processes in Mars' history are presently not clearly known.

Findings of the research

• One such chloride deposits was witnessed near Meridiani Planum, the location of the Opportunity rover.
•This chloride deposit is likely formed from fluviolacustrine processes, implying an active hydrologic cycle.
• Late-stage activity led to valley incision in the surrounding highlands and ponding of water to form a lake in a local basin. The lake level eventually rose and breached the drainage divide, leading to significant outflow. The remaining water evaporated and eventually precipitated the chlorides at the lowest levels.
• Through digital terrain models, the lak e and salt flat volumes were used to calculate the salinity of the lake, which at full lake extent was around 8 percent of the salinity of Earth's oceans.
• This hydrological episode occurred aft r regional widespread fluvial incision and also post-dates formation of the sulfate bedrock being investigated by Opportunity.

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