Ripples in Rocks Point to Water
This image taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's panoramic camera shows the rock nicknamed "Last Chance," which lies within the outcrop near the rover's landing site at Meridiani Planum, Mars. The image provides evidence for a geologic feature known as ripple cross-stratification. At the base of the rock, layers can be seen dipping downward to the right. The bedding that contains these dipping layers is only one to two centimeters (.4 to .8 inches) thick. In the upper right corner of the rock, layers also dip to the right, but exhibit a weak "concave-up" geometry. These two features -- the thin, cross-stratified bedding combined with the possible concave geometry -- suggest small ripples with sinuous crest lines. Although wind can produce ripples, they rarely have sinuous crest lines and never form steep, dipping layers at this small scale. The most probable explanation for these ripples is that they were formed in the presence of moving water.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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