Scientists propose widespread deep groundwater on Mars

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In a new study, scientists are now suggesting that widespread deep groundwater exists on Mars, and is the cause of the recurring slope lineae seen on many Martian slopes.

Previous theories for the cause of lineae proposed both dry and wet processes, all related to either near surface or atmospheric phenomenon. This new hypothesis is different, as it proposes deep groundwater as the source.

“We propose an alternative hypothesis that they originate from a deep pressurized groundwater source which comes to the surface moving upward along ground cracks,” Heggy says. “The experience we gained from our research in desert hydrology was the cornerstone in reaching this conclusion. We have seen the same mechanisms in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula, and it helped us explore the same mechanism on Mars,” said Abotalib Z. Abotalib, the paper’s first author.

The two scientists concluded that fractures within some of Mars’ craters, enabled water springs to rise up to the surface as a result of pressure deep below. These springs leaked onto the surface, generating the sharp and distinct linear features found on the walls of these craters. The scientists also provide an explanation on how these water features fluctuate with seasonality on Mars.

This conclusion is most intriguing, but it is far from certain. Scientists have found a lot of lineae. For all of them to come from deep groundwater rising under pressure through fractures seems unlikely.

Nonetheless, this research indicates the growing belief among Mars researchers that water exists everywhere on Mars, and is accessible.



  • mpthompson

    Nonetheless, this research indicates the growing belief among Mars researchers that water exists everywhere on Mars, and is accessible.

    Hallelujah. Now let’s just go and find out for certain. :-)

  • pzatchok

    What stops water from migrating all the way to the core of a planet?

  • wayne

    pzatchok –
    intriguing question.

    pivoting to the Earth–

    “Hydrous mantle transition zone indicated by ringwoodite included within diamond”

    “The ultimate origin of water in the Earth’s hydrosphere is in the deep Earth—the mantle. Theory1 and experiments2,3,4 have shown that although the water storage capacity of olivine-dominated shallow mantle is limited, the Earth’s transition zone, at depths between 410 and 660 kilometres, could be a major repository for water….”

    (The full Paper is however, behind a paywall.)

  • pzatchok

    My guess is that without a magma center all the water will migrate to the center. Not enough heat to push it back up.

    Yes there might be reservoirs of water sitting on top of “bed rock”. All the other water sank deep. Anything that stayed on the surface in a lake evaporated and replaced any atmosphere that blew off into space.

    Now we just have what little is left over.

  • wayne

    can’t speak to Mars, and I’m way out of my element with Earth geology.

    these items are interesting (but I can’t vouch for their validity)
    “Schmandt et al. combined seismological observations beneath North America with geodynamical modeling and high-pressure and -temperature melting experiments. They conclude that the mantle transition zone—410 to 660 km below Earth’s surface—acts as a large reservoir of water.”

    (This tangentially, would help blow holes in part, in phony climate change delusions)

  • Please remember that as a planet solidifies and grows, the heavier materials always sink to the bottom. This is why the Earth, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, etc have iron/heavier-metal cores. Water is not the heaviest. It will sink to its natural level, sitting on more dense materials.

  • pzatchok

    Mars is no longer geologically active though.

    I wish it was.

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