Evidence of Life on Mars Could’ve Been Erased by Supersalty Water

The supersalty brines broke down clay minerals in some places.

via Gizmodo

The mudstone from both patches dates back to the same time and place, so they should contain similar amounts of clay minerals. This surprising observation required the researchers, led by Tom Bristow from NASA’s Ames Research Center, to conjure an explanation for the missing clay. Indeed, ancient rocks are known for being repositories of history, but as the new research shows, natural geological processes can undo this record.

To explain what happened, the team posited a scenario in which water leaked down into the clay from a sulfate deposit located directly above. The supersalty brines seeped through grains of sand at the bottom of the former lake and, by doing so, forever changed the mineral-rich layers below.

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