MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Why were Martian Lakes / Seas so acidic?

Date: Mon Mar 5 14:01:04 2007
Posted By: In Koo Kim, Physical Atmospheric Chemistry
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1172799695.Es

Early observations of the Martian surface indicate acidic surface
lakes/oceans in the areas sampled because of the relatively uniform ratio
of the concentrations of phosophorous, sulfur, and iron.  However, I don't
know of any observations that would clue us into why the lakes/oceans were
acidic.  Speculatively speaking, one cause may have been due to extreme
volcanic activity in an oxidizing atmosphere.  On Earth, volcanic eruptions
release vast amounts of sulfur into the atmosphere.  SO2, and its relatives
(collectively SOx), can be oxidized in the atmosphere to form
sulfuric/sulfurous acid.  Precipitation can then deposit this acidic
product into the oceans.  

As for terraforming Mars... while we do not know for certain that there is
active volcanism on Mars (although some volcanic cones suggest a
possibility), compared with the past, current volcanic activity is surely

The acid already in the soil has likely undergone reactions with the soil
and underlying rocks.  We cannot be sure (without further study) whether or
not a return of surface waters to the Martian surface will result in the
same acidic oceans as previously indicated.

Current Queue | Current Queue for Earth Sciences | Earth Sciences archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Earth Sciences.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2006. All rights reserved.