Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to content Skip to navigation

Geological Sciences Seminar: Robin Wordsworth, Harvard University

Date and Time: 
November 5, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


GeoCorner 220 - 450 Serra Mall, Building 320
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 
Event Sponsor: 
Department of Geological Science

** Please join us for coffee and cookies in the GeoCorner Undergraduate lounge (bldg. 320, rm 114) before the talk, at 11:30am! - Seminar will be in room 220~

The Climate and Habitability of Mars Through Time

The planet Mars has engaged the curiosity of scientists and amateurs alike for centuries, but many aspects of its evolution remain poorly understood. In particular, Mars contains abundant evidence for erosion by liquid water 3-4 Ga, but due to the faintness of the young Sun, basic climate theory suggests its surface should have been extremely cold. Here I describe our recent progress on this important planetary science problem. Based on 3D climate modeling results, I describe how adiabatic cooling under a thicker CO2 atmosphere would have led to stabilization of snow and ice deposits in the highland regions where most surface aqueous alteration is recorded. I then show that bursts of reducing gases (H2 and CH4) outgassed into this atmosphere, would have led to intense intermittent warming on moderate (10^4 - 10^5 y) timescales. This scenario fits many aspects of the geologic record and will be amenable to further in-situ testing by the Mars 2020 rover. Finally, I will discuss some recent work we have done on the prospects for making Mars regionally habitable again in the future.

Robin Wordsworth completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham, a DPhil at the University of Oxford, and postdoctoral research in France and Chicago before joining the faculty at Harvard in 2015. His research focuses on the deep-time climate evolution of terrestrial planets, including Earth, Mars, Venus and exoplanets.