If Martians wanted to vacation some place exotic, they might pick the Redwood forests of the Pacific, yet if they wanted to feel like they were at home, but with better hotels, a researcher has determined the best analogue of Mars.
Associate Professor Patrice F. Rey (University of Sydney) has recently outlined attributes suggesting that the Australian red center could be a close analogue for the surface of the red planet – and how this unusual weathering has led to the formation of Australia’s opals.
Precious opal, Australia’s national gemstone, has been mined from the red dirt of central Australia for over a century. Its formation at shallow depths, and why it can be found in central Australia - yet hardly anywhere else on Earth - has remained a mystery. In a recent Australian Journal of Earth Sciences paper, Rey, from the University’s School of Geosciences, explains that the formation of Australian opal was due to an extraordinary episode of acidic weathering during the drying out of the central Australian landscape that followed the regression of the Eromanga Sea 100 years ago.
On Earth, regional acidic weathering is rare. Interestingly, acidic oxidative weathering has been documented at the surface of Mars, which shares an intriguing set of attributes with the Great Artesian Basin.
These attributes include similar sandstones, a long episode of drying out leading to the formation of clay and opaline silica, and last but not least the same surface color. This latest research suggests that the Australian red center could well be the best regional terrestrial analogue for the surface of the red planet.
Reference: Opalisation of the Great Artesian Basin (central Australia): an Australian story with a Martian twist, P. F. Rey, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences DOI:10.1080/08120099.2013.784219
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- We're Playing Classical Music All Wrong
- Football Physics: The Science Of Deflategate
- The Plot Of The Week: CMS Search For Majorana Neutrinos
- Superbugs: How Montezuma's Revenge Impacts Society Long After That Trip
- Atmospheric Warming Heats The Bottom Of Ice Sheets Also
- Is Glass A Solid Or A Liquid? Yes
- Deflate-gate: Cheating People versus a Flawed Pre-Game Process
- "Thanks as usual for the update. A small typo: annichilate in the third paragraph. And a question..."
- "Error bars are the responsible thing to do. I don't see an aesthetic problem. Nice pix last week..."
- "I think a smaller market means a lot higher quality. We get so many terrible pop songs because..."
- "The air inside a leather football is not an ideal gas. That is what I meant.As far as the..."
- "I don't agree at all. Classical music appeals to certain people and always will. That there aren't..."
- BPA exposure during pregnancy correlated to oxidative stress in child, mother
- Ventricular assist devices induce heart muscle regeneration
- Targeting DNA repair pathways could provide better treatment for neuroblastoma in kids
- KIT gene linked to drug resistance in testicular cancer
- Concerns over skin whitener marketing