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Physicochemical properties of concentrated Martian surface waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Nicholas J. Tosca, Scott M. McLennan, Michael P. Lamb, John P. Grotzinger


Understanding the processes controlling chemical sedimentation is an important step in deciphering paleoclimatic conditions from the rock records preserved on both Earth and Mars. Clear evidence for subaqueous sedimentation at Meridiani Planum, widespread saline mineral deposits in the Valles Marineris region, and the possible role of saline waters in forming recent geomorphologic features all underscore the need to understand the physical properties of highly concentrated solutions on Mars in addition to, and as a function of, their distinct chemistry. Using thermodynamic models predicting saline mineral solubility, we generate likely brine compositions ranging from bicarbonate-dominated to sulfate-dominated and predict their saline mineralogy. For each brine composition, we then estimate a number of thermal, transport, and colligative properties using established models that have been developed for highly concentrated multicomponent electrolyte solutions. The available experimental data and theoretical models that allow estimation of these physicochemical properties encompass, for the most part, much of the anticipated variation in chemistry for likely Martian brines. These estimates allow significant progress in building a detailed analysis of physical sedimentation at the ancient Martian surface and allow more accurate predictions of thermal behavior and the diffusive transport of matter through chemically distinct solutions under comparatively nonstandard conditions.



Original languageEnglish
Article numberE05004
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2011

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ID: 17793326