Mudcracks in Gale Crater Record Evidence of a Drying Martian Lake

Since landing on the interior plains of northern Gale crater, the Curiosity rover has explored more than 200 m of stratigraphy that records evidence for past fluvial, deltaic, lacustrine, and eolian environments. Currently, Curiosity is investigating the Murray formation, which records several distinct facies including laminated siltstones and sandstones of lacustrine origin (see Grotzinger et al., 2015). More recently, Curiosity has explored intermittent exposures of broken and rotated slabs of bedrock that are more consistent with traction transport in shallow lacustrine environments. In this region, Curiosity investigated a rock slab called “Old Soaker” whose surface is covered in a network of raised polygonal ridges that we interpret as likely originating via desiccation in a drying lacustrine environment.

Explore a 3D Model of Old Soaker made from overlapping MAHLI images (Credit to S. Le Mouelic):

Read the press release for more information.

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Stein, N., Grotzinger, J.P., Schieber, J., Mangold, N., Newsom, H., Minitti, M., Sumner, D., Edgett, K.S., Stack, K., Fedo, C., Gupta, S., Hallet, B., Vasavada, A., Fey, D. Candidate desiccation cracks in the upper Murray formation, Gale Crater, Mars. LPSC 48. Abstract 2387.

Stein, N., J.P. Grotzinger, J. Schieber, N. Mangold, B. Hallet, H. Newsom, M. Minitti, D. Sumner, K. Stack, C. Fedo, S. Gupta, A. Vasavada, K. Siebach, R. Gellert, R. Wiens, J. Berger, L. Thompson, J. Frydenvang, A. Cousin, O. Forni, P. Y. Meslin, V. Payre. Desiccation cracks in the upper Murray formation, Gale Crater, Mars. In prep for submission to Geology.