Mars may still have active deep groundwater, says new study

Mars may still have active deep groundwater, says new study
Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech.

In a new study, researchers suggest deep groundwater may still be active on Mars.

In addition, the deep groundwater could originate surface streams in some near-equatorial areas on Mars.

The research was done by researchers at the USC Arid Climate and Water Research Center (AWARE).

Previous research in mid-2018 had detected a deep-water lake on Mars under its south polar ice caps.

In the current study, the team examined the characteristics of the planet’s recurring slope linea.

They are akin to dried and short streams of water that appear on some crater walls.

Previously, scientists thought these features were linked to surface water flow or close subsurface water flow. But the new research shows that may not be true.

The researchers suggest that the features originate from a deep pressurized groundwater source.

The groundwater source comes to the surface moving upward along ground cracks.

The team also suggests that the same mechanisms have been seen in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula. This helped them explore the same mechanism on Mars.

They concluded that fractures within some of Mars’ craters enabled water springs to rise up to the surface as a result of pressure deep below.

These springs leaked onto the surface and produced the sharp and distinct linear features on the walls of those craters.

Overall, the finding suggests that groundwater may be deeper than previously thought in areas where such streams are observed on Mars.

The exposed part of these ground fractures is linked to springs as the primary location candidates to explore Mars’ habitability.

Future work needs to develop new probing methods to examine these fractures.

The authors are Abotalib Z. Abotalib and Essam Heggy.

The paper is published by Nature Geoscience.

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