Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere

Joseph R Michalski, Javier Cuadros, Paul B Niles, John Parnell, A Deanne Rogers, Shawn P Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

104 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

By the time eukaryotic life or photosynthesis evolved on Earth, the martian surface had become extremely inhospitable, but the subsurface of Mars could potentially have contained a vast microbial biosphere. Crustal fluids may have welled up from the subsurface to alter and cement surface sediments, potentially preserving clues to subsurface habitability. Here we present a conceptual model of subsurface habitability of Mars and evaluate evidence for groundwater upwelling in deep basins. Many ancient, deep basins lack evidence for groundwater activity. However, McLaughlin Crater, one of the deepest craters on Mars, contains evidence for Mg–Fe-bearing clays and carbonates that probably formed in an alkaline, groundwater-fed lacustrine setting. This environment strongly contrasts with the acidic, water-limited environments implied by the presence of sulphate deposits that have previously been suggested to form owing to groundwater upwelling. Deposits formed as a result of groundwater upwelling on Mars, such as those in McLaughlin Crater, could preserve critical evidence of a deep biosphere on Mars. We suggest that groundwater upwelling on Mars may have occurred sporadically on local scales, rather than at regional or global scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-138
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume6
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jan 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

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biosphere
Mars
groundwater
upwelling
crater
basin
photosynthesis
cement
sulfate
carbonate
clay
fluid
sediment
water

Keywords

  • planetary science
  • geochemistry
  • biogeochemistry
  • volcanology, mineralogy and petrology

Cite this

Michalski, J. R., Cuadros, J., Niles, P. B., Parnell, J., Rogers, A. D., & Wright, S. P. (2013). Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere. Nature Geoscience, 6(2), 133-138. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1706

Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere. / Michalski, Joseph R; Cuadros, Javier; Niles, Paul B; Parnell, John; Rogers, A Deanne; Wright, Shawn P.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 6, No. 2, 02.2013, p. 133-138.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Michalski, JR, Cuadros, J, Niles, PB, Parnell, J, Rogers, AD & Wright, SP 2013, 'Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere', Nature Geoscience, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 133-138. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1706
Michalski JR, Cuadros J, Niles PB, Parnell J, Rogers AD, Wright SP. Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere. Nature Geoscience. 2013 Feb;6(2):133-138. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1706
Michalski, Joseph R ; Cuadros, Javier ; Niles, Paul B ; Parnell, John ; Rogers, A Deanne ; Wright, Shawn P. / Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere. In: Nature Geoscience. 2013 ; Vol. 6, No. 2. pp. 133-138.
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