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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New Evidence for Long-Term Water, Dried Suddenly

Pictures of Nili Fossae deltas.
Pictures of Nili Fossae deltas.
Credit: GRL/NASA
Two Brown University researchers have reported in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters that they have evidence for long-term water in the Nili Fossae region, in Syrtis Major (MC-13 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature). While the area appears to have been only wet for thousands of years, it once contained a significant amount of water, being about the size of Lake Tahoe, with both inflow and outflow channels.

On Earth when dry periods occur in such regions the inflow channels must begin to carve their way through their own deposits as they decline, leaving deep channels into the body of water. This did not occur here, leading the authors to conclude that the area must have dried rapidly to avoid this.

(More info: Discovery Channel, Geophysical Research Letters [Requires subscription, look at current publications])

- posted by Brian @ 21:01 EST