Staff Writer, Nathaniel DiazMars / NASA
In the Geophysical Research Letters, Oxidation of manganese in an ancient aquifer, Kimberley formation, Gale crater, Mars makes the argument that Mars used to be very much like Earth at one time in its past.
The Curiosity rover observed high-Mn abundances (>25 wt% MnO) in fracture-filling materials that crosscut sandstones in the Kimberley region of Gale crater, Mars. The correlation between Mn and trace metal abundances plus the lack of correlation between Mn and elements such as S, Cl, and C, reveals that these deposits are Mn-oxides rather than evaporites or other salts. On Earth, environments that concentrate Mn and deposit Mn minerals require water and highly oxidizing conditions, hence these findings suggest that similar processes occurred on Mars. Based on the strong association between Mn-oxide deposition and evolving atmospheric dioxygen levels on Earth, the presence of these Mn-phases on Mars suggests that there was more abundant molecular oxygen within the atmosphere and some groundwaters of ancient Mars than in the present day.
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Source: AGU Publications