Researchers have determined that Mars’ crust has greater concentrations of the chemical element silicon, which may mean that Mars’ original surface may be similar to Earth’s first crust. The surface of Mars is uniformly basalt, a product of billions of years of volcanism and lava flowing on the surface that eventually cooled. Because Mars did not undergo large-scale surface remodeling, such as the shifting of continents on Earth, scientists had thought that the history of Mars’ crust was a relatively simple story. But in a new study, researchers found sites in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet with greater concentrations of silicon, a chemical element, than what would be expected in a purely basaltic environment. The silica concentration had been uncovered by space rocks that collided with Mars, unearthing material embedded miles below the surface, revealing a hidden past. “There’s more silica in the composition that makes the rocks not basalt, but what we call a more evolved composition,” said Valerie Payre, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Iowa and the corresponding author of the study. research. “That tells us how the crust formed on Mars is definitely more complex than what we knew. So it’s more about understanding that process, and especially what it means for how the Earth’s crust first formed. The study: “An evolved early crust exposed on Mars revealed through spectroscopy,” was published online Nov. 4 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.