We have recently completed a global investigation of desiccation cracks that are associated with chloride-bearing terrains (El-Maarry et al., submitted) and smectite-rich deposits in general (El-Maarry et al., in preparation). The latest study (i.e., paper currently in preparation) represents a review of desiccation processes on Mars from mapping, modeling, field studies, and experiments on analog soils and contains the first ever compiled map of desiccation features on the surface of Mars. Our work shows that desiccation features are more common on the surface of Mars than previously thought, yet is confined to the Noachian-aged terrains. This work has profound implications for the Noachian climate, the history of liquid water on Mars, and possibly landing-site-selection for future in-situ investigations.
- El-Maarry, M. R., A. Pommerol, and N. Thomas (2013), Analysis of polygonal cracking patterns in chloride-bearing terrains on Mars: Indicators of ancient playa settings, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 118, 2263–2278.
- El Maarry, M.R., J. Kodikara, S. Wijessoriya, W.J. Markiewicz, and N. Thomas, (2012), Desiccation mechanism for formation of giant polygons on Earth and intermediate-sized polygons on Mars: Results from a pre-fracture model, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 323-324, 19–26.
Space Research & Planetary Sciences Division Web Site