Pedogenic processes and the drying of Mars

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Adrian Broz , Lucas C.R. Silva


New insights from Mars suggest crustal hydration contributed to the long-term drying of the planet. Three to four billion years ago, hydration of the Martian crust could have resulted from precipitation-driven surface weathering of mafic sediments, which on Earth leads to pedogenesis, i.e., the formation of soil. Although soil has been traditionally defined by its biological component, growing evidence of global scale soil formation on a presumably lifeless Mars suggests abiotic pedogenesis was a critical process early in the planet’s history. Using a recently updated definition of soil as leverage, we argue that pedogenic processes could have consumed large amounts of Mars’ exchangeable liquid water. Since there is no evidence of plate tectonics to liberate and recycle water from hydrated pedogenic minerals on Mars, the global formation of soil billions of years ago could have contributed to the irreversible desiccation of the planet.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Mars, pedogenesis, crustal hydration, paleosol


Published: 2021-08-30 12:19

Last Updated: 2021-08-30 19:19


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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