The divergent fates of primitive hydrospheric water on Earth and Mars

Journal: Nature

Published: 2017-12-21

DOI: 10.1038/nature25031

Affiliations: 6

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Mars’s missing water may be locked in the planet’s rocks



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 surface.

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.

Their 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.

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  1. Nature 552, 391–395 (2018). doi: 10.1038/nature25031
Institutions Share
University of Oxford, United Kingdom (UK) 0.20
Colorado School of Mines, United States of America (USA) 0.20
Earth Observatory of Singapore, NTU, Singapore 0.20
The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), United States of America (USA) 0.20
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK) 0.10
Simon Fraser University (SFU), Canada 0.10