Running Water in Martian Past

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Running water flowed in the Martian past.

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Photos from the Mars rover Curiosity show strong evidence that water once flowed on Mars. Curiosity’s close-ups reveal gravel rounded in a way consistent with tumbling in torrents of water. Gravel, the size of M&Ms and hard candies, appears encased in sediment as conglomerate rock, also consistent with water deposition.

Geologist Rebecca Williams of the Planetary Science Institute says, “The shapes tell you [the rocks] were transported, and the sizes tell you they couldn't be transported by wind. They were transported by water flow.” Geomorphologist William Dietrich adds, “We've now identified pebbles and gravel at the landing site that clearly have been carried down by water, have been broken down and very much smoothed out. This is the beginning of our process of learning how much water was running and how long this area was wet.”

The terrain in the region of Gale Crater looks like what we would expect to see produced by streams feeding into an 11-mile long channel. Water may have once flowed in this channel and then dropped off a cliff to form a 20-square-mile alluvial fan in a canyon 2,000 feet wide. Of course, there is no water there now, but the similarity to water-carved terrain on earth got NASA’s attention in selecting Curiosity’s landing site. The primary purpose of Curiosity’s mission is to search for the chemical building blocks of life and chemical evidence of life that might-have-been. Evolutionary scientists are generally convinced that where water was, given habitable conditions, life is likely to have evolved.

martian gravel

On the left is a photograph of Martian gravel fragments deemed too large to have been carried by the wind. The smoothing of surfaces and the conglomeration of gravel with sediment suggest water in the Martian past. Compare to similar material from earth on the right. Image by MSSS/Caltech/NASA and PSI, via National Geographic.1

Of course, you do not have to be an evolutionist to be curious about the Martian past. Martian water is not inconsistent with a biblical worldview.

Of course, you do not have to be an evolutionist to be curious about the Martian past. Martian water is not inconsistent with a biblical worldview. Even Martian microbes, if they are ever found, are not inconsistent with the Bible. And since life as we know it requires water, a place that might have once had water is a good place to look.

The Bible does not say whether God created life on other planets (although we have good reason to believe He did not), but the Bible does tell us God created all life on earth during the first six days of Creation week, the same week in which He created the rest of the universe, about 6,000 years ago. Evolutionists generally believe that finding life’s chemical signatures on Mars would confirm life evolved there just as they believe it did on earth. However, no mechanism has ever been observed whereby life could randomly emerge from non-living elements. And if life were ever to be found on Mars, its presence would not prove it evolved.

We know how water-borne rocks behave on earth and can extrapolate those observations to draw conclusions about the conditions under which the Martian conglomerate rock and gravel likely formed. Claims that water flowed on Mars for “thousands to millions of years”2 “billions of years ago,”3 however, rely on unverifiable assumptions about our own unobservable past and further extrapolation to Martian history. Even in estimating the age of earth rocks, unverifiable uniformitarian assumptions are used to come up with vast ages by those who ignore the biblical history of the age of the earth and the global Flood.

In the case of Mars, we have no eyewitness record of events there other than the fact that God created it about 6,000 years ago along with everything else. Conclusions about the age of Mars rocks or the duration of water flow require assumptions about conditions and events long past and not amenable to controlled scientific testing. Such long age estimates should not be considered reliable.

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  1. Marc Kaufman, “Mars Rover Finds Ancient Streambed—Proof of Flowing Water,” National Geographic, September 28, 2012,
  2. Marc Kaufman, “Mars Curiosity Rover Finds Proof of Flower Water—A First,” National Geographic, September 28, 2012,
  3. Richard A. Kerr, “ScienceShot: Bingo! Ancient Rushing Water on Mars,” ScienceShot, September 27, 2012,


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