Researchers link porous structures in Martian mountains to the evaporation of salt water
3:21:46 2023-10-02 128

Using computer simulation technology for rock weathering, researchers at Russia's Skolkovo Institute of Innovations have discovered how mysterious cells similar to "honeycombs" are formed in rocks.

Russian mathematicians have discovered that "honeycomb"-shaped voids in the mountains of Mars, as well as in some regions of the Far East, arise due to the periodic seepage of highly salty water into small cracks and pores and its subsequent evaporation. The institute's press service reported on Tuesday, September 26, that the study was published in the journal Geosciences.

“Honeycombs” (“beehives”) in rocks have been actively studied for about a hundred years, but there is still no comprehensive answer to the question of why they form. Scientists from the Russian "Skolkovo" Institute created a computer model that simulates the weathering of rocks during the evaporation of salt water and reproduces the production of mysterious inscriptions, indicating the conditions that contribute to their appearance.

Alexander Safonov and his colleague at the institute, Kirill Menchenkov, from the Skolkovo Institute, said that “honeycomb”-shaped voids in the rocks can be seen on images of many mountainous areas on Mars, and that they resemble what they are like in some areas of the Russian Far East. Geology called this type of erosion cellular weathering, and its origin is still a mystery to scientists.

“Various hypotheses have been put forward, including corrosion caused by water and wind, the destructive effect of ice or salt crystals, sudden fluctuations in temperature, etc.,” explained Safonov, who was quoted by the institute’s press service as saying.

Calculations conducted by scientists showed that water and salt crystals, which accumulate inside small cracks in rocks, participate in the formation of "honeycombs" on Mars and on Earth. At moderate humidity levels and a certain altitude, water seeping into cracks and subsequent evaporation of the brine leads to the formation of salt crystals, causing the gradual destruction of the rock. As a result, increasingly larger cavities appear, resembling a “honeycomb” in shape.

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