History of the formation of flowing water is recorded in clay deposits on Mars

(ORDO NEWS) — One region of Mars may have been habitable until relatively late in Martian history, says Katherine Weitz, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, in a new paper.

Some of the best-preserved landforms on Mars, created by running water on its surface, are found in the Margaritifer Terra region, where deposits of clay sediments have been found.

“The presence of clay indicates a favorable environment for life, as clay forms and remains stable under neutral pH conditions, where water is stored for long periods of time, minimizing evaporation to form other minerals such as sulfates.

We have found that the Ladon Basin region within Margaritifer Terra has a long history of flowing water that began relatively early in the history of Mars, about 3.8 billion years ago, and continued until 2.5 billion years ago, which is considered a relatively recent period. Weitz said.

Colored, layered light-colored deposits that show relatively low bed slopes and contain clay at a distance of 200 kilometers are evidence that a lake most likely existed in the Ladon Basin and northern Ladon Valles. The low-energy lacustrine environment and the presence of clays confirm that the environment was favorable for life at that time.

The clays were originally formed in older rocks around the Ladon Basin, and water subsequently eroded these clay-bearing rock materials and formed the Ladon Valles channel. Then, under its influence, sediments were formed downstream in the lake of the Ladon basin and the northern part of the Ladon Valles.

The most recent and youngest water flow in the highlands runs along the southwestern Ladon Basin, where clays were deposited in blocked valleys and small topographic basins that are of similar age but on a smaller scale than the Eberswalde delta deposit south of this study area.

“Our results indicate that argillaceous deposits formed by flowing water at Eberswalde were not uncommon during this period, as we see many examples of such young valleys.

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