The presence of water-soluble cations and anions in the Martian regolith has been the subject of speculation for some time. Viking lander data provided evidence for salt-cemented crusts on the Martian surface. If the crusts observed at the two Viking landing sites are, in fact, cemented by salts, and these crusts are globally widespread, as IRTM-derived thermal inertia studies of the Martian surface seem to suggest, then evaporite deposits, probably at least in part derived from brines, are a major component of the Martian regolith. The composition of liquid brines in the subsurface, which not only may be major agents of physical weathering but may also presently constitute a major deep subsurface liquid reservoir, is currently unconstrained by experimental work. A knowledge of the chemical identity and rate of production of Martian brines is a critical first-order step toward understanding the nature of both these fluids and their precipitated evaporites. Laboratory experiments are being conducted to determine the identity and production rate of water-soluble ions that form in initially pure liquid water in contact with Mars-mixture gases and unaltered Mars-analog minerals.
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
- Pub Date:
- March 1993
- Mars Surface;
- Planetary Composition;
- Planetary Geology;
- Lunar and Planetary Exploration