Shallow reservoirs of liquid water may have been common on Mars

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - Shallow groundwater reservoirs may have been common on Mars, says a new study.

An international research team led by the Planetary Science Institute studied collapsed terrains that occur within some of the solar system’s largest channels, and concluded that liquid water on Mars may have been present at shallow crustal depths of as little as tens of meters.

The numerical model implies that where fine-grained, unconsolidated sedimentary deposits existed on top of an icy permafrost layer, melting of ground ice and the development of subsurface aquifers could have taken place at shallow depths.

Extrapolations of their results to the present Martian conditions imply that groundwater may currently exist underneath thermally insulating fine-grained sedimentary deposits approximately 120 meters in thickness.

So despite large differences between the Earth and Mars environments, some areas of Mars might be similar to typical permafrost on Earth, where shallow aquifers are confined by thin layers of icy permafrost.

These reservoirs could mean the presence of accessible water near theartian surface, said J. Alexis Palmero Rodriguez, research scientist at PSI, which could greatly reduce the costs of future manned exploration of the planet.

In addition, it could mean habitable environments may exist at shallow depths, he said. (ANI)

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