‘Mars had been bone dry for billions of years’

A scientist claims that Mars` spectacular grand canyons were carved by slippery, low-viscosity lavas.

Updated: Aug 01, 2011, 20:54 PM IST

Washington: Scientists have been “following the water” on Mars for decades.

Now, a Texas geologist claims to have found evidence that the planet Mars had been dry for billions of years.

Mars` spectacular grand canyons were not carved by catastrophic floods, says Texas Tech`s David Leverington, but instead by slippery, low-viscosity lavas, reports ABC News.

This lava hypothesis fits happily within a wider geological framework of Mars and compares well with similar channel-like features on the moon and Venus, he said.

If Leverington is right, the odds of life on Mars plummet to near zero. But that`s a big “if.”

Many veteran Mars researchers are far from buying the lava story and are still pretty certain that water played a significant part in sculpting the compelling 1,200-mile long, 60-mile wide outflow channels that stunned the world when they were first imaged by Viking spacecraft in the late 1970s.

Leverington`s approach is explained in his soon-to-be published paper in the Sept. 2011 issue of the journal Geomorphology.