Freezing-resistant liquid water in porous media, a possible mechanism to account for the fluidized transport of sediments on Mars: an example from East Gorgonum crater

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Blackwell Publishing Ltd
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A mudflow-like deposit resting on the bottom of the East Gorgonum Crater (Mars; 37.4S, 168.0W) may provide new insight regarding the debate on the existence of water over the Martian surface. Because water in a mudflow is confined to a porous medium, we analyse this case from the perspective of non-equilibrium systems. Fluids confined to porous media behave in a special way, the system being ruled by kinetic restrictions, which alter the expected thermodynamic equilibrium. These non-equilibrium conditions allow the existence of pure liquid water to temperatures as low as ) 40 C, and even less if the system includes brines. Thus, application of the triple point diagram of water on the Martian surface may constitute a simplistic approach if we are dealing with confined, and yet moving, water in the form of a mudflow. We further suggest that the V-shaped channels excavated alongside the mudflow may have been caused by water rejected by syneresis from the moving sediment. We finally indicate that the series of deeply entrenched channels and debris aprons that occur only in the northern half of the crater might be related to the regional slope, which decreases in altitude to the south.
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