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No. 37: Jan-Feb 1985

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When Mars Had Lakes

Rhythmic layered deposits can be seen in the Valles Marineris, a large Martian valley. The strata are erosional remnants up to 5 kilometers high, with individual layers 170-220 meters thick. They can be traced on spacecraft photographs for some 50 kilometers. The material making up the strata is clearly different from that of the valley walls. After the layers were deposited, they were deeply eroded by some event in Martian history that seems related to the formation of the great outflow channels associated with Valles Marineris. The author of this American Geophysical Union paper concludes:

"The morphology and history of the sediments are consistent with deposition in standing bodies of water early in Martian history."

(Nedell, Susan S., and Squyers, Steven W.; "Geology of the Layered Deposits in the Valles Marineris, Mars," Eos, 65:979, 1984.)

Comment. The "event" that deeply eroded the Martian deposits may have been similar to the catastrophic emptying of Lake Missoula, which carved out the Channelled Scablands of eastern Washington state as the Ice Ages waned.

From Science Frontiers #37, JAN-FEB 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987