The glass is most likely volcanic glass produced during explosive eruptions, and potential sources include volcano-ice interactions in the northern lowlands as well as ash deposits from the large martian shield volcanoes. The glass deposits also exhibit signs of weathering, indicating widespread interactions with liquid water. Under the hyper-arid climatic conditions Mars has experienced over the past three billion years or more, the most likely source of this water is melting ice or snow.
These results suggest that explosive volcanism may be a major source of sediments on Mars, and that limited liquid water has been present at the surface of Mars even under long-term hyper-arid conditions.
The three-dimensional image at the top of the page of the Nili Fossae region of Mars Northern Hemisphere shows a type of minerals called phyllosilicates (in magenta and blue hues) concentrated on the slopes of mesas and along canyon walls. The abundance of phyllosilicates shows that water played a sizable role in changing the minerals of a variety of terrains in the planet’s early history.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/University of Arizona/Brown University.
Source: The Daily Galaxy via The Geological Society of America