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#1 2015-09-13 15:17:21

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 4,432

Gigantic Fossil ice deposites

I finally found the reference to the supposed very deep very old "Fossil" ice layer in the Valles Marineris.
Here is a Query phrase that fishes like articles out on the web:

One million cubic kilometeros of fossil ice in Valles Marineris: Relicts of a 3.5 Gy old glacial landsystem along the Martian Equator

I have started the subject with the word "Gigantic" because Tom has an article about a "Gigantic" ice slab, and I want the two topics to be pals. … 5X13004145

https://planetarygeomorphology.wordpres … eris-mars/


Self-consistent landform assemblages suggest that Valles Marineris, the giant valley system that stretches along the Martian equator, was entirely glaciated during Late Noachian to Early Hesperian times and still contains huge volumes of fossil ice. Some of these glacial landform assemblages are illustrated here, with representative examples selected in three regions: Ius Chasma, Central Candor Chasma and the junction between Coprates Chasma and Capri Chasma. A morphological boundary separating an upper spur-and-gully morphology from a smooth basal escarpment has been spectacularly preserved along valley walls throughout Valles Marineris. The boundary winds around topographic obstacles and displays long-wavelength variations in elevation. It is associated with lateral benches, hanging valleys and truncated spurs. Comparisons with terrestrial analogs indicate that it is most reasonably interpreted as a glacial trimline. Chasma floors are covered by various kinds of terrains, including hummocky terrains, platy terrains, lateral banks, layered benches and a draping mantle. Landforms in these terrains and their spatial relationship with the interpreted trimline suggest that they correspond to various disintegration stages of an ancient glacial fill, currently protected by a superficial cover of ablation till. Altogether, these landforms and terrains compose a full glacial landsystem with wet-based glaciers that were able to flow and slide over their beds. It was most probably fed by ice accumulating at low elevations directly from the atmosphere onto valley floors and walls, with only minor contributions from tributary glaciers flowing down from higher elevations. Similar fossil glacial landsystems dating back from the early Martian history are to be expected in many other low-latitude troughs such as chasmata, chaos, valleys, impact craters and other basins

https://planetarygeomorphology.wordpres … eris-mars/

However, little morphological evidence of past glacial activity has been described in the equatorial regions of Mars. A reapraisal and cartographic compilation of landforms in Valles Marineris (Gourronc et al., 2014) has revealed that this giant valley system that stretches over 2000 km along the martian equator, was entirely covered by a wet-based glaciated valley system during Late Noachian to Early Hesperian times, 3.5 Gy ago, and still contains huge volumes of fossil ice inherited from this ancient glaciation (Image 1). This supports the idea that massive wet-based ice deposits have formed at the Martian equator during the Late Noachian or Early Hesperian and have been preserved for their larger part until the present day.

And then is this can be connected to the suspected ancient thick ice slab which may occupy most of the northern hemisphere of Mars, down to the Equator, a very different Mars may be emerging from the one we previously thought. … marswater/

Now Tom's article indicates a 130 foot thick layer of ice which may have emerged from the subsurface to the near surface by volcanism:

Now Roberts reference, also involving volcanism driving water from the deep subsurface to the near surface, just a few years ago:

RobertDyckMemberFrom: Winnipeg, CanadaRegistered: 2002-08-20Posts: 3,347Email Website

Re: Crops

This is the "pack ice", in Elysium Planetia. It's the part of the ancient, dried-up ocean basin, where it crosses the equator. So low altitude (lots of atmosphere for radiation shielding), relatively flat and smooth (easy to land), and close to the equator (relatively warm, year round sunlight). This particular spot is 5° north. Also note "sploosh" craters. There at least was lots of water there. The MARSIS antenna on Mars Express has not been able to confirm water here, but that antenna is designed to look for formations kilometres thick, at least a good fraction of a kilometre. It isn't designed to look for ice only a few metres thick. From the article (click image for article):

The ice exists in a block that resemble polar ice on Earth, according to the research team. It measures about 497 by 559 miles (800 by 900 kilometers) and averages up to 150 feet (45 meters) deep.

The underground iceberg is just 2 million to 5 million years old -- recent in geologic terms. It formed when early hominids were roaming Earth.

So there's a good chance there's still ice there. Scientists think the lake formed when volcanic activity melted permafrost. That melt water pooled, then froze. Build a base on the shores of a major frozen lake?


Possibly a very ancient layer of ice which underlies the northern hemisphere, and includes the rift valley.  How it got there is speculative.  Some glacial actions for sure, possibly some ocean and sea actions.  Volcanism pushing water up here and there occasionally.

I want to speculate on what might have happened to the bulk of the atmosphere of Mars in ancient times.  It is a wild thought, but please give it consideration.

This reference to Lake Vida:


Lake Vida does not possess many factors attributed to the existence of life formations. Lake Vida contains high levels of nitrous oxide (N2O) and also molecular hydrogen (H2). The chemicals are believed to be released from chemical reactions between the brine and underlying sediments. The molecular hydrogen may be crucial as an energy source for life in the lake and aids in justifying the presence of life in an oxygen-deprived environment.[9]

CLATHRATES: … e_Hydrates

ABSTRACT In this communication, we report equilibrium pressures for nitrous oxide clathrate hydrates in the temperature range of (266.7 to 285.1) K and for clathrate hydrates of carbon dioxide in the temperature range of (264.5 to 271) K. 

Equilibrium Data of Nitrous Oxide and Carbon Dioxide Clathrate Hydrates - ResearchGate. Available from: … e_Hydrates [accessed Sep 13, 2015].

So, here is a possible "Sink" for Nitrogen, and maybe CO2, in the ancient ice layers.  Lakes like Vida, with or without life, being able to form Nitrous Oxide, and presumed deep hypersaline lakes having the conditions to form Clathrates due to temperature, and pressure.

This new picture of Mars suggests a very great potential to change Mars to a much more Earth like planet in the very long run, but it also suggests that there will be instabilities created if it is not handled correctly.  In other words, if the speculation is at all true, there may be a need for several intermediate terraform actions over a very long period of time.  Questions will have to be answered.

Do you really want to cover Mars with that much ocean?  Or would you rather try to work with it's cold nature, and keep is somewhat like it is.

For instance, I can see that one increment of "Improvement" would be to drive all the CO2 out of the southern ice cap, and raise the average pressure to 11 mb, allowing for snow, and temporary streams.  This will be a great improvement for conditions for any settlers.

The next step would be to get the pressure up so that ice is stable relative to "make up water replacement" for any ice covered lakes you might want to manufacture.  This would remove the requirement of a mechanical protection of ice coverings for lakes.

After that you might try for open air agriculture near the polar ice caps.  That would require a lot of greenhouse actions, and sufficient pressure so that the plants could be healthy in the open air.  This plan would rely on the "Midnight" sun effect at the poles to ward off frosts in a minimum period of about 90 days out of a Martian year, in the summer of each pole.

So all of these would make life on Mars very much more tolerable.

However, if you had a run away greenhouse process beyond that depending on what is buried under the presumed ice, you might have and unstable surface in the northern half of the planet for a very long time.  Think sinkholes, and otherwise unstable ground.

So, choices would have to be made, if possible.  It would be better to have planed results then to have the whole thing take off in a direction of it's own choosing.

Last edited by Void (2015-09-13 16:10:50)



#2 2016-06-23 04:56:05

Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,262

Re: Gigantic Fossil ice deposites

For the sake of a discussion, suppose there was a Martian crater containing a lake, in the distant past. The lake would freeze from the surface downwards, but would not necessarily freeze right to the bottom owing to the possible presence of concentrated brine expelled from the ice as it froze. The surface of the ice would be covered by wind blown dust which would be bound by subliming and recondensing interstial ice, due to temperature changes. This dust blanket would slowly increase in depth and might allow the ice to persist over very long periods in favourable locations. There may still be some craters like this.
Now, if the crater wall were breached so that the underlying brine could flow out, the ice would be left as a grounded mass.
Crater floors are not generally flat, but frequently have internal peaks. These may have formed islands in the putative frozen lakes , with ice already grounded around them. In this case if the brine were to escape the floating part of the ice would settle and break off from the already grounded part, forming grounded bergs.
I quite like the crater at 3deg North, 92deg East as a possible candidate for this process. There are others.


#3 2016-08-03 23:12:16

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 4,432

Re: Gigantic Fossil ice deposites


In response to the post just previous to this one:

An interesting idea.

Now I may deviate from the intentions you had for that post, since I am not sure what your interest is in such a buried ice mass.

For me I would be interest in locating a relatively habitable place with the following qualities.

1) Near the equator.
2) Having a significant buried fossil ice mass.
3) Having a "Recurring Slope Lineae" near by.
4) Being accessible by vehicles, both from orbit and across land.

With that I would hope the first missions might rely on the "RSL" for water while they build a way to access the buried ice mass.
I feel that this would be the best as easy water in limit supply would be followed by large scale water.  This would allow a seedling to take deep root.  (This seedling would by a "settlement-colony").  (I don't like the use of the word colony, as it has negative historical memories).

In addition, I would like to find under the ice
5) A salt dome or buried salt pan or, as you have suggested a subglacial salt lake.  (I think this would require toxic salts, or geothermal heat however).  Salts of any kind would be likely to be a useful resource.
6) Sandstone suitable for carving caves.
7) Hydrocarbons of any kind.

Items 5-7 would be wishes, and not required.

To identify a probability of item #5, you would need to speculate on the drainage patterns that might have existed prior to the fossil glaciation.
Item 6 might be speculated on by the surrounding rock.
Item 7 could have come to be by several processes.  a) Abiotic natural gas is a possibility.  Limited methane emissions have been identified on Mars, I believe, so perhaps the underground capped by ice and sandstone structures may hold some methane.  b) Perhaps Mars did/does
have microbe life underground.  That could have produced hydrocarbons.  c) If a certain type of asteroid impacted Mars, the heat from that could have cooked hydrocarbons out of it.  I believe oil and natural gas can flow underground, and might be retained by underground structures on Mars.

To identify 5, 6, and 7 the use of 4D sounding used for fracking here on Earth might be useful.

I hope I have not offended you by posting long, and I hope I have not deviated too far from your intent.

But I did come back just to reply to you.

Last edited by Void (2016-08-03 23:29:20)



#4 2016-08-04 20:02:05

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,294

Re: Gigantic Fossil ice deposites

Yup water seems to be everywhere but until we can put real tools to dig, bore and quantitatively measure the content its still just a big hint of possibility to come once man does go. The working rovers on mars are in that searching for test cases of that water to be able to do more that say that there is some.


#5 2016-08-06 13:01:01

Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,262

Re: Gigantic Fossil ice deposites

If there is water ice in large quantities it could be mined to provide feed for an electrolysis plant generating Hydrogen and Oxygen. These are rocket fuel and oxidiser. With a bit of basic chemistry you can make peroxide also, which doesn't require cryogenic storage and is a suitable transportation fuel (it has been used in torpedoes and rocket packs). The equipment and seed chemicals required would have to be imported from earth, as would a nuclear reactor to power it. I doubt that the required power could be practically generated using hectares of solar panels without having a large crew to clean it.
First we need to prove that the water is there and find out what, if any, purification will be needed. so we need a drill rig capable of drilling say 5 metres deep and extracting cores for an analyser.
We also need to find a location with many interesting targets in a small area, or send a rig with a hopper to transport it.


#6 2016-08-06 14:40:20

From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 7,241

Re: Gigantic Fossil ice deposites

Old news story from July 2003: MARS - A Canadian contribution?

Called the CanaDrill, the drill could punch through a harsh combination of rock types, which scientists believe they'll come up against on Mars. The lightweight version of the prototype could drill two metres below the surface of Mars.

The article proposes this for Curiosity. Didn't happen. But the Canadian Space Agency originally tried to get funding to send a Canadian rover to Mars. It would be as big as Spirit or Opportunity, not as big as Curiosity. The Canadian rover would carry a drill with 10 segments, each 1 metre long. So it could drill core samples up to 10 metres deep. But Canadian parliament didn't approve funding for it.


#7 2016-08-06 15:34:01

Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,262

Re: Gigantic Fossil ice deposites

Shame. I don't suppose any other government would either- unless the Chinese do. Missed opportunity Canada.


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