Did wa­ter-rich sed­i­ments al­so reach the Mar­tian sur­face?

Did water-rich sediments also reach the Martian surface?
Did wa­ter-rich sed­i­ments al­so reach the Mar­tian sur­face?
Credit: CAS/Peter Brosž CC BY-SA 4.0

Did water-rich sediments also reach the Martian surface?

Wa­ter that flowed over the sur­face of Mars bil­lions of years ago trans­port­ed large quan­ti­ties of sed­i­ments to the north­ern low­lands, where they were lat­er cov­ered by younger sed­i­ments and vol­canic rocks. Some Mars re­searchers sus­pect that these wa­ter-rich sed­i­ments be­came liq­ue­fied un­der­ground and rose back to the sur­face un­der pres­sure – sim­i­lar to this hot ‘mud spring’ at Bakhar in Azer­bai­jan (di­am­e­ter ap­prox­i­mate­ly 1.5 me­tres). Ex­per­i­ments in a low-pres­sure cham­ber, in which DLR sci­en­tist Ernst Hauber was in­volved, have now shown that the flow be­haviour is sim­i­lar to that of what is re­ferred to as ‘ropy la­va’ (or, ac­cord­ing to the Hawai­ian term for smooth, un­bro­ken la­va, al­so known as ‘ pāhoe­hoe’ la­va), which is at a tem­per­a­ture of sev­er­al hun­dred de­grees Cel­sius. This im­plies that mud flows on Mars take a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent course than those on Earth. This ob­ser­va­tion could sup­port the as­sump­tion that many of the con­i­cal hills with cen­tral craters dis­cov­ered in the north of Mars are al­so mud vol­ca­noes.

Water that flowed over the surface of Mars billions of years ago transported large quantities of sediments to the northern lowlands, where they were later covered by younger sediments and volcanic rocks. Some Mars researchers suspect that these water-rich sediments became liquefied underground and rose back to the surface under pressure – similar to this hot ‘mud spring’ at Bakhar in Azerbaijan (diameter approximately 1.5 metres). Experiments in a low-pressure chamber, in which DLR scientist Ernst Hauber was involved, have now shown that the flow behaviour is similar to that of what is referred to as ‘ropy lava’ (or, according to the Hawaiian term for smooth, unbroken lava, also known as ‘ pāhoehoe’ lava), which is at a temperature of several hundred degrees Celsius. This implies that mud flows on Mars take a completely different course than those on Earth. This observation could support the assumption that many of the conical hills with central craters discovered in the north of Mars are also mud volcanoes.

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