The divergent fates of primitive hydrospheric water on Earth and Mars
Long before it boiled away into space, some of Mars’s plentiful water may have been absorbed into the planet’s rocky surface and buried beneath subsequent lava flows.
While at least some of the water
is believed to have been lost to space after the collapse of the planet’s
magnetic field, scientists have long thought that this process alone could not
have accounted for all the water that once flowed across the red planet’s
A group of
researchers, including from Nanyang Technological
University, have modelled how water might have interacted with the unique chemical
composition of Mars’s iron oxide-rich basalts.
work suggests these rocks could hold around 25% more water than basalts found
on Earth. Over time, the water-laden Martian basalts would then have been
buried beneath more lava flows, effectively trapping about twice as much water
below the planet’s surface as happens on our own planet.
- Nature 552, 391–395 (2018). doi: 10.1038/nature25031