Scientists see evidence of young and vast river valleys on Mars

May 7th, 2009 - 3:37 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 7 (ANI): A team of scientists has reported evidence of young and vast river valleys on Mars, which date back to 1.8 billion years.

Most river valley systems on Mars existed only during the early history of the planet, before a major climate transition to colder, drier conditions.

Now, J. L. Dickson, C. I. Fassett, J. W. Head, from the Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, US, have reported evidence of younger fluvial valley systems that formed during the middle to late Amazonian epoch, which extends from about 1.8 billion years ago to the present.

The data suggests that these fluvial valley systems, located in the Lyot crater in the northern midlatitudes, are tens of kilometers in length and are among the youngest river valley systems of this size reported to date.

Past research indicates that conditions overall on Mars during the middle to late Amazonian were too cold to support liquid water.

However, the researchers propose that in the microenvironment of the Lyot crater, high surface pressure due to low elevation, combined with local temperature conditions, at times made possible the melting of surface ice.

They suggest that observed glacial deposits in the crater indicate that glaciers provided the continuous melt water needed to form these fluvial valley systems. (ANI)

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