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Primordial clays on Mars formed beneath a steam or supercritical atmosphere

On Mars, clay minerals are widespread in terrains that date back to the Noachian period (4.1 billion to 3.7 billion years ago). It is thought that the Martian basaltic crust reacted with liquid water during this time to form hydrated clay minerals. Here we propose, however, that a substantial proportion of these clays was formed when Mars’ primary crust reacted with a dense steam or supercritical atmosphere of water and carbon dioxide that was outgassed during magma ocean cooling.
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