Publications by Colin Wilson

Simulating weathering of basalt on Mars and Earth by thermal cycling

Geophysical Research Letters 37 (2010)

H Viles, B Ehlmann, CF Wilson, T Cebula, M Page, M Bourke

Physical weathering induced by heating and cooling may cause rock breakdown on Mars and Earth. We report results from parallel weathering simulations on basalt blocks exposed to diurnal cycles representing Mars-like (two simulation runs from -55 to +20 < sup > o < /sup > C and -75 to +10 < sup > o < /sup > C, 1-100% relative humidity, 4-8 mbar pressure, CO < inf > 2 < /inf > atmosphere) and hot arid Earth (23-72 < sup > o < /sup > C, 30-100% relative humidity) conditions. Under Earth conditions, thermally pre-stressed blocks showed measurable strength declines, whilst salt pre-treated blocks showed strength gains. Under Mars-like conditions, pre-stressed blocks recorded greater or similar strength declines and salt pre-treated blocks showed more muted strength declines than under Earth conditions. The results imply that on Earth and Mars diurnal cycling of temperature alone can cause deterioration of basalt with a pre-existing stress history. The type of stress history is important, with salt pre-treatment affecting the response of thermally pre-stressed blocks under both Earth and Mars conditions. Copyright © 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.

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