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#1 2007-07-17 08:20:18

nickname
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From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2006-05-15
Posts: 354

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

Peat bogs are extremely inefficient places.

With the few inches of water needed to create a pete bog we could make a much more efficient place for 100s of species and bacteria instead of the handful that exist in a peat bog.

A salt marsh has at least 10 times the life of a peat bog per sq inch, produces at least 10 times the oxygen and 10 times the decayed organic material.

Mars will probably have a salt content in it's water right away but not like earth has.
The salt accumulation will take millions of years to slowly build on mars to the permanent bodies of water.
We can expect all the surface soil on Mars to be much higher salt residue than earth for that length of time.

If we are just trying to introduce organic material to Mars to call the dust soil, then the salt marsh will be much quicker to introduce plant and animal life, and much easier to seed useful bacteria.

A salt marsh with a foot deep of water also affords us some protection from UV and additional doses of radiations on Mars, water species are not as effected from 1/3 g either.
A peat bog will have to endure the full brunt of those radiations, the additional salt residues and adapt to 1/3 G a total unknown.

After a few years simply draining the water to a new area from a salt marsh on Mars would leave soil.

Just an additional thought, i don't believe water will freeze at 0c on a Mars with say 350 mb atmosphere?

Anyone like to hazzard a guess at the freeze point on Mars for water?


Science facts are only as good as knowledge.
Knowledge is only as good as the facts.
New knowledge is only as good as the ones that don't respect the first two.

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#2 2007-07-17 10:42:38

Midoshi
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From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-07-14
Posts: 157

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

Hey nickname,

You've got some good points. Taking only the chlorine found in the Martian regolith into account and assuming that it is all bound as salts (probably not a bad assumption) the initial salinity of the groundwater and shallow overlying bodies of water would be around 2.6%, which is brackish and close to what you'd find in a salt marsh. Of course, I imagine there'd be sulfate and phosphate salts as well, which could bump it up to being saline water, or perhaps even brine in some areas.

I think you're absolutely correct when you say we need to start with bacteria. My gut feeling on terraformation is that we climb up the evolutionary ladder:

Bacteria -> Fungus/Moss -> Simple Plants -> Higher Plants/Insects -> etc.

You could perhaps also write it like this:
Bacterial Salt Marshes -> Peat Bogs -> Moorlands + Briny Lakes -> Meadows + Saline Lakes -> etc.

The diversification into regions of 'land' and 'water' would occur once the Martian surface had enough water that it could pool into large scale watershed structures. Small scale lakes and ponds could exist in low lying areas very early on, which is probably where your "bacterial salt marshes" would be. I call them that because at the cold temperatures, lower pressures, and higher UV we're talking about you wouldn't really have anything like a terrestrial "salt marsh"; they'd be more like primordial icy hypersaline bacteria filled puddles with none of the abundant plant life typically associated with salt marshes. Nevertheless, bioterraformation would definitely start in such puddles.

You suggest that the transport of salts would be extremely slow, and that differentiation of salty bodies of water and less salty land would take millenia. I suppose this might be the case for global scale terraformation, but I don't see why local systems should take nearly so long. A small stream flowing at a very modest 10 liter/second could drain much of the salt from a 1 km^2 area in less than 20 years. It thus seems to me that it is on a decade, or at most century, time scale that peat bogs could begin to be established in some areas.

In the end, I'm not sure just how much say terraformers would have in an icy salt marsh versus peat bog debate. The two environments would naturally form in low lying and slightly elevated areas respectively and the biology that suited each best would be grown. As water levels advanced the bacterial salt marshes would become saline lakes, the lower elevation peat bogs would become inundated by these (terraformers would just harvest these areas before that happened), and higher elevations would become more hospitable waterwise and give rise to moorlands with bogs and eventually higher plants as terraformation advanced.

By the way, here's the answer to your question about water's freezing point. 350 mb = 35,000 Pa. You can see that above 611 Pa the freezing point of water is essentially constant until you hit extreme pressures. Since 600 Pa is more or less the current pressure in the low lying areas of Mars that would be initially terraformed, it's safe to assume a freezing point of 0C for pure water there.


"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

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#3 2007-07-17 16:47:48

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Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

Hi Midoshi,

Thank you smile

I think the salt duration on Mars will all depend on how much it rains.
With less clouds, a thinner atmosphere and less energy from the sun, i have a feeling not to often.

Some areas are sure to become fresh water pretty quickly, but most of the dry land will take its own sweet time to de salt.

I'm in total agreement about the bacteria helpers on Mars.
We see our planet after bacteria has detoxified it for 3.8 billion years, so we don't give them much thought.

On Mars once it gets wet i bet the water will be full of horrible chemicals, iron, salt and other nasty poisons.

Trying to grow anything in it other that bacteria that live happily in a toxic pool will be pointless.

I agree that we are going to have to take a bacteria step long before we are even ready for the first cyanobacteria type bacteria.

With some bacteria engineering we can defiantly shorten the time earth took to clean itself naturally, but it will still take time.

If we do alter Mars one thing is for sure, the first few hundred or few thousand years will be a toxic brew that doesn't resemble earth.
Don't drink the water will have a new meaning smile

I guess we will get some answers about the 1/3 G on plants in the next short while.
I've heard that tests will be happening on plants at 1/3 G to see the effects at the space station.

They will be simple grow experiments, not complex mutation rate experiments that i would like to see.
At least they will prove if plants can even grow properly at 1/3 G.

Thanks for the info on the 0c freeze of fresh water on Mars.
I wasn't sure on that.

Hope this message stays in this topic.
Getting difficult to follow what i have said with each post i start being moved into a new topic.


Science facts are only as good as knowledge.
Knowledge is only as good as the facts.
New knowledge is only as good as the ones that don't respect the first two.

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#4 2007-07-17 20:50:40

SpaceNut
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Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,328

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

The initial problem of creating any pond, bog or salt water still relies on some contained area or a planetary force or level to allow for pressure of atmosphere and temperatures to rise within or complete to create this eco-system for the biological system to work.

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#5 2007-07-18 06:15:53

nickname
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Posts: 354

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

SpaceNut,

As with every idea the getting to that point is the problem. smile
The saltiness of Mars might turn out to be a plus for us, if salty water freezes at - 1 or -2 it might be a couple free degrees.

Getting the bar pressure up for salt marshes isn't that difficult.
Getting to an environment salt marshes are not toxic pools is.

I think the trick is carbon held on the surface of Phobos and the water ice poles of Mars, a great chemical pair.
A well planed carbon removal from Phobos surface and micro impacts on the poles of Mars could create an immediate 200-300 mb c02 atmosphere, and a substantial amount of free carbon from non reacted impact material.

We do loose some potential water for the surface of Mars with this reaction, but that is the only down side i see.
1 very small water/ice asteroid could easily replace the lost total if needed, unlikely we would need it as Mars has a decent amount of water.

Then we get the same sort of totals from the regolith as it melts and gasses out almost immediately since the bar pressure and temperature would already be beyond melt point.

We are sure to get all sorts of horrible chemicals collecting in all the ponds and lakes right after a melt.
The water will get constantly more toxic without bacteria munching away, so that should be our first goal to detoxify the water.
Then we can think about salt marshes  smile


Science facts are only as good as knowledge.
Knowledge is only as good as the facts.
New knowledge is only as good as the ones that don't respect the first two.

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#6 2007-07-22 21:49:33

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,763
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Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

The point of a peat bog is strong acid. That quickly converts feldspar in rock flour to clay. I proposed this to terraform bedrock into soil, if you start with a patch of Mars that already has deep loose regolith (Mars soil) with significant amounts of clay or other hydrated minerals such as gypsum, then you don't need a bog. If soil nutrients are readily released to water, then you can start growing other environments immediately. Average Mars surface has a lot of basalt, although there is ~12% clay. It's just a question of how weathered the soil is, whether it will give up it's nutrients.

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#7 2007-07-23 05:05:37

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Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

RobertDyck,

The peat bog idea to break down rock with its acidic content is a good one.
I'm sure we can select bacteria in salt marshes that are just as efficient or many times more efficient.

Clay is not the greatest soil to work with anyway, but clay with a high carbon content is.

Bombarding the poles with the carbon dust from Phobos not only brings up the bar pressure from the creation of co2, but it also leaves lots of free carbon for soil building.
Guessing at the carbon quantity on Phobos and the impact to co2 conversion on the poles of Mars, i get about 200mb - 300mb of c02.
More than enough to warm Mars even without the regolith contribution.

I think we can be pretty confident that as soon as Mars melts the water will be very chemically active, probably to chemically active for most forms of life.

It should be pretty similar to what earth was in its early times with rusty iron rich mildly salty water.
The rock grinding action on Mars from impactors with little atmospheric protection for so long should make those pools and lakes very chemically rich indeed. 

If we picture the runoff from a garbage dump that is probably what water will be like on Mars smile
Everything that can be in the water will be.

In my opinion we will have to start life in the pools on Mars whatever they are like.

If 1/3 G isn't a giant plant problem and we can select UV tolerant species then peat bogs will help chew rock into soil.


Science facts are only as good as knowledge.
Knowledge is only as good as the facts.
New knowledge is only as good as the ones that don't respect the first two.

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#8 2007-07-23 15:03:26

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Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

RobertDyck,

I also think the natural outcome of a warm wet Mars will be lots of carbonic acid.

We are talking about a 200mb - 600 mb atmosphere of co2 that will scrub with rain and react with salt in the water.
We probably don't need pete bogs if this is correct, it will be pretty acidic with no help from us.


Science facts are only as good as knowledge.
Knowledge is only as good as the facts.
New knowledge is only as good as the ones that don't respect the first two.

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#9 2008-02-16 11:20:09

Richard_a
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Posts: 4

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

Peat bogs are extremely inefficient places.

Just an additional thought, i don't believe water will freeze at 0c on a Mars with say 350 mb atmosphere?

Anyone like to hazzard a guess at the freeze point on Mars for water?

isn't it much colder then 0 celsius on mars?
i thought it's something like -40c or -30c most of the time...

Ritchie from TheReefTank

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#10 2008-02-16 11:56:33

Terraformer
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From: Logres
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Posts: 3,363
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Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

Remember this is with 350 mb of atmosphere, all CO2.

Mars' temp. gets up to 0c at the max already.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#11 2008-03-09 04:31:09

RickSmith
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From: Vancouver B.C.
Registered: 2007-02-17
Posts: 244

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

Hi everyone,
  we are getting a bit off topic here but to answer a couple questions:

  The average temperature on Mars is about -63 C.  It is not too unusual for Mars to get up to +20C during northern summer. The following is a link to a bunch of physical data on Mars:

Facts on Mars.

  Earth's oceans are slightly basic, but the waters on Mars seem to have been acidic.  I am a bit unclear why this is so (if anyone has a link to a good explanation I would be very interested in reading it).  Assuming we would like seas with that are basic, is there anything reasonable we can do about this?

  Having acidic seas in the early period of colonization would likely not be a bad thing.  Life needs to get a variety of elements out of rocks and the acid (whether natural or from a peat bog) will only help release them.

  Anyway, this thread is for peat bogs.  If the discussion is going to be on how acid the seas are, we likely would be better to reactivate this thread:

Will Acid Seas Cause a Problem For Colonization?

  Warm regards, Rick.

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#12 2008-03-09 16:19:34

Martian Republic
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From: Haltom City- Dallas/Fort Worth
Registered: 2004-06-13
Posts: 855

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

My understanding of what makes up a good growing soil that we have on earth is that it a combination of bacteria in the ground or soil and bio-mass in the soil or fossil of other former living matter in those soils. That why people that grow gardens will usually have a compose pile of rotting weeds, food stuff that they throw into the compose pile instead of into the garbage bag.

All things being equal and assuming that the Martian regolith isn't overly salty or poisons in the soil and we can do something with atmosphere of Mars or put the particular area under a dome or something, the we might be able to so something in the way of creating soils that can grow something on Mars. But, we are going to have to be able to generate a lot of bio-mass to mex with that Martian soil to get this process going in the first place. After that, we can continue the process of developing that soil into more productive soils for growing plants and gradually introduce more Martian soil into the process to expand the amount of soil that has now been enriched with both nutrients and bio-mass so it can grow plants to sustain ecological system on an expanding bases under human management.

It the ability to generate that bio-mass in sufficient quantities that will be one of the primary thing that will hold us back from transforming that regolith or soil into good soil for growing plants that we want to introduce from Earth. It is the millions of years of dead plants and animals that has made the soils on the Earth good growing soil for growing plants too. whether or not we can use a pond for generation large amounts of bio-mass or not to start the process is still open for debate.

Larry,

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#13 2008-03-29 03:50:10

RickSmith
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From: Vancouver B.C.
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Posts: 244

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

It the ability to generate that bio-mass in sufficient quantities that will be one of the primary thing that will hold us back from transforming that regolith or soil into good soil for growing plants that we want to introduce from Earth. It is the millions of years of dead plants and animals that has made the soils on the Earth good growing soil for growing plants too. whether or not we can use a pond for generation large amounts of bio-mass or not to start the process is still open for debate.

Larry,

Hi Larry, everyone.
  Soil can be generated fairly quickly on Earth when lava flows are colonized with life.  Now, Earth has a lot of advantages Mars doesn't.  Some off the top of my head are:

- plenty of nitrogen for nitrogen fixing bacteria.
- birds flying over with droppings to speed things up.
- plenty of warmth and sunlight.
- liquid water.
- oxygen for faster, higher energy metabolisms.

   Mars has one advantage over Earth:
- Earth's atmosphere is CO2 starved which slows plant growth.

  Anyway, if conditions were ideal on Mars, (say a small area with lots of warmth, water, minerals, sunlight, nitrates, etc.) and we used lichen and bacteria & other life as conditions allowed, I think we could grow shallow soils in thousands of years not millions.

  If you are talking about having soil EVERY WHERE on Mars, I don't think millions of years is long enough since most of the planet is likely to be a desert even if very optimistic terraforming scenarios.


  A question to the list.  Does anyone know of studies that say how long it takes soils to form.  Hard numbers are always better than opinions.

  Warm regards, Rick

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#14 2016-12-29 10:12:24

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,328

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

Once we can make a greenhouse or enclosed area large enough then making a salty pond to allow for soil processing and food grow does make sense for sure as water processing may use a brime to allow for it concentrating from the mars sources which seem to be a brime.

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#15 2016-12-29 15:17:29

Void
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Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,916

Re: Building Soil with Salt Marshes

The topic is specific to "building soil with salt marshes", but I see an opportunity to multitask such a "Machine" to produce additional desired effects.  Also, I will say that it may not be required to have brine, but also fresh water could be used.  You have already invoked the use of enclosures, so I will as well.

I have read some of the much older posts, so I will try to involve them as well.

For total tasks I will list, soil manufacture, solar collector, dune digester, and the synthesis of organic matter which may be possible to manipulate into a food source.

I am obviously draw from materials discussed previously on this site, but I will try to hold true to the subject of this quote from you spacenut:

Once we can make a greenhouse or enclosed area large enough then making a salty pond to allow for soil processing and food grow does make sense for sure as water processing may use a brine to allow for it concentrating from the mars sources which seem to be a brine.

As in similar discussions I will propose a greenhouse which should have the strength to hold ~20mb of differential pressure, to provide evaporation protection for an ice covered reservoir.
This can be called the "Upper Layer".

Inside of that layer, and named the "Lower Layer", is another enclosure bounded by transparent material, and either comprising a balloon, or a tent over the natural bottom of the "Pond".

The upper layer should be sterile.  This could be accomplished with degassing, and perhaps some kind of poison.  The ice layer in the upper layer may have tubing embedded in it.  This will allow machines to draw heat from the pond at night, and also to cause the phase change where the ice layer adds thickness during the night.  The ice layer should also function as a U.V. sunscreen.

Depending on the process desired in the lower layer, the upper layer could be 3 feet, 6 feet, 10 feet deep (Ice and water).

The desired process in the lower layer could be to sustain simple microbial photosynthesizing organisms, or possibly more complex tundra pond plants.

For the microbes in salt water, the temperature of the lower layer could go down to a few degrees below the freezing point of fresh water, and they would still be active.  Of course, I don't see why they would need to be that cold.

For tundra pond plants, fresh water is likely involved.

Here is a possible one:
http://tundralpine.weebly.com/arctic-moss.html
Artic Moss:
226411370.jpg

Arctic moss is an aquatic plant which can grow underwater in the tundra. It has adapted to its climate by being able to store energy to use even when it isn't growing. Like most plants in the tundra, it grows low to the ground to avoid the harsh winds and freezing cold.

Unfortunately it is very slow growing, but that could be due to the very short growing season it has in the Arctic.  Something "Alpine" might be more suitable actually.

Anyway I just wanted a plausible candidate.  So in this case I think you are talking about fresh water in the lower enclosure, and as for the soil at the bottom of the pond, line it with dune material, and let that erode partially into clay, producing hydrogen as a byproduct.  Further microbes would grow, in the soil, I assume that nematode worms would live in the soil under the moss.

One possible process would be to add dune materials to the bottom of the lower layer, get the pond back up to functioning and seed it with Arctic pond plants such as Arctic Moss and microbes.

Let it process for a necessary time, producing some Oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

When the batch was done, remove the soil and Arctic moss with a suction hose to a pressurized, process center, and then grow mushrooms on that biologically enriched soil.
Mushroom enhancement of soil:
http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/ce … hroom-soil
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/garden … althy-soil

And some mushrooms supply a bit of vitamin B12, but I recommend that an attempt be made to enhance this property for mushrooms to be grown on Mars.  Or, you have to eat animals, or, you have to synthesize the vitamin from bacteria I guess.
http://www.veganb12sources.com/mushroom … tamin-b12/

Research has also shown that the B12 in mushrooms is bacteria derived and most prominent on the outer peel of the mushrooms. The vitamin content seems to vary from farm to farm as well².
How much B12 is that?
Is eating a steady diet of shiitake mushrooms going to supply you with the vitamin B12 you need to thrive? Let’s examine this question in a little more detail.
The recommended dietary amount for adults is 2.4 micrograms (µg) per day, and 2.8µg for breastfeeding mothers. How many mushrooms is that? On the low side it was measured that 100g of shiitake mushrooms contained 1.3µg of B12. It would be almost impossible to eat enough shiitake mushrooms on a daily basis to guarantee sufficient intake, not to mention you would really have to love these mushrooms. According to the researchers, 50g of dried shiitake fruiting mushroom bodies could supply the recommended amount of B12, however this is no guarantee.

Other mushroom nutrition:
https://www.verywell.com/mushroom-nutri … ts-4117115

We have been here before, you guys won't talk mushrooms.  It is very funny smile

Returning to a search for plants to grow in your pond:
http://www.highestlake.com/highest-lake-world.html
I would think that most of them would be fresh water, but a good place to look for candidates.

Here is a possible one: "Tres Cruces Norte Lake"
http://www.highestlake.com/highest-lake … rucesNorte
http://www.summitpost.org/tres-cruces-t … 013/888064
888087.JPG

Not sure how many vascular plants may be found that way.  Maybe some in some places.

Typically what grows in these high altitude lakes has to tolerate high levels of Ultra Violet, which is of interest.

Last edited by Void (2016-12-29 16:17:09)


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