Spring moulds found in Spain may aid search for water on Mars

April 5th, 2011 - 4:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 5 (ANI): A new study on the origin and evolution of peculiar morphologies caused by ancient subterranean springs in the central pre-Pyrenees of Catalonia (Spain) may aid the search for water on Mars.

Similar to small volcanoes, these formations until now had only been described in Australia and closely resemble gigantic forms found on the red planet.

Over recent years, a group of researchers from several universities and research centers, coordinated by Rogelio Linares, lecturer of the Department of Geology at Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) have carried out a geomorphological research in the Catalan pre-Pyrenees region.

The study, coordinated by some of the main specialists in Europe, corresponds to a selection of works presented at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna in 2009.

It is a multidisciplinary research focused on the study of geologic records originated by ancient karstic springs.

It specifically studies forms dating back over 250,000 years - tufa mounds - which are practically unknown in Europe and previously described only in Australia.

Located in the Tremp Basin in Lleida, the formations are similar to volcanoes created by subterranean water springs, under specific hydraulic and hydrochemical conditions and in a certain geomorphological context.

One of the most important aspects of the research and has attracted interest from the international scientific community is the similarity between these types of ’spring mounds’ and the giant formations identified in various regions of Mars’ surface.

In the case of this study, the fact that these formations were generated by underwater cold springs makes it possible to consider that their ‘big sisters’ on Mars could have a similar origin.

The interest in this analogy is clearly linked to the search for water on the red planet.

Part of the results has been published in a special edition of the journal Geodinamica Acta. (ANI)

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