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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1166. doi: 10.1038/srep01166. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Don Juan Pond, Antarctica: near-surface CaCl(2)-brine feeding Earth's most saline lake and implications for Mars.

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1
Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA. jdickson@brown.edu

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  • Sci Rep. 2013;3:1424.

Abstract

The discovery on Mars of recurring slope lineae (RSL), thought to represent seasonal brines, has sparked interest in analogous environments on Earth. We report on new studies of Don Juan Pond (DJP), which exists at the upper limit of ephemeral water in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) of Antarctica, and is adjacent to several steep-sloped water tracks, the closest analog for RSL. The source of DJP has been interpreted to be deep groundwater. We present time-lapse data and meteorological measurements that confirm deliquescence within the DJP watershed and show that this, together with small amounts of meltwater, are capable of generating brines that control summertime water levels. Groundwater input was not observed. In addition to providing an analog for RSL formation, CaCl(2) brines and chloride deposits in basins may provide clues to the origin of ancient chloride deposits on Mars dating from the transition period from "warm/wet" to "cold/dry" climates.

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