Marsquakes may help reveal whether liquid water exists underground on red planet | Science & Technology

If liquid water exists today on Mars, it may be too deep underground to detect with traditional methods used on Earth. But listening to earthquakes that occur on Mars — or marsquakes — could offer a new tool in the search, according to a team led by Penn State scientists.

When quakes rumble and move through aquifers deep underground, they produce electromagnetic signals. The researchers reported in the journal JGR Planets how those signals, if also produced on Mars, could identify water miles under the surface. The study may lay the groundwork for future analyses of data from Mars missions, according to Nolan Roth, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geosciences at Penn State and lead author.

“The scientific community has theories that Mars used to have oceans and that, over the course of its history, all that water went away,” Roth said. “But there is evidence that some water is trapped somewhere in the subsurface. We just haven’t been able to find it. The idea is, if we can find these electromagnetic signals, then we find water on Mars.”

If scientists want to find water on Earth, they can use tools like ground-penetrating radar to map the subsurface. But this technology is not effective miles under the surface, depths where water may be on Mars, the scientists said.

Instead, the researchers recommend a novel application of the seismoelectric method, a newer technique developed to non-invasively characterize Earth’s subsurface. When seismic waves from an earthquake move through an aquifer underground, differences in how rocks and water move produce electromagnetic fields. These signals, which can be heard by sensors on the surface, can reveal information about aquifer depth, volume, location and chemical compositions, according to the researchers.

“If we listen to the marsquakes that are moving through the subsurface, if they pass through water, they’ll create these wonderful, unique signals of electromagnetic fields,” Roth said. “These signals would be…

Source www.sciencedaily.com

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