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Re: Death Valley, and the Martian Landscape.

	I recently spent a week studing various aspects of Death Valley 
geology. I started to make a connection that may not be obvious to a 
terrestrial geologist. I saw a much larger picture than just regional 
phenomena, but an interplanetary relationship.
	Death Valley is an arid enviroment, that recieves very little 
moisture during the year. Also it is makes up a major rifting event that 
started about 20 million yrs ago, and continues to this day. Rifting 
means, basicly, the crust of the Earth is being pulled apart. This is why 
the lowest spot in the Northern Hemisphere is here( the bottom is sinking).
	At one time there was much rain, and water activity. This can be 
seen by the numerous abandoned channels, and river cuts. Vast lakes and 
rivers were in the area as late as 10,000 yrs ago. Now all that remains 
is a dry valley, where the only moisture is trapped deep in the ground.
	Well, what does this have to do with Mars? Well as I was standing 
in a tight channel, I reasoned like this: Here in front of me, is an old 
channel that was once very active, now it is not.Mars once had vast 
channels of running water too. Perhaps I am in Earth based analogy of the 
current Martian surface.
	There is little change in Death Valley these days. This is true 
of the Martian surface also. Both are dead. The only changes come from 
wind in both places. Now both are just reminders of what once was.
	I think that Death Valley could be used as a model for Mars 
exploration. We look at Mars with pictures and this tells us only about 
the geomorphology (structure at the surface of a planet), and nothing 
about true geology. Death Valley, however can be sampled directly. From 
soil, rock, salt, sand, mud, biology, and climate. I see much to be 
learned here, that could relate to Mars. 
	When Mars has been adequalty sampled by robots, remote sensing, 
and people, I think, that it will be similar to Death Valley in make 
up. I am just speculating here, and have not done any testing of this 
hypothesis. Perhaps you will visit Death Valley some day. When you get 
there, remember, Mars resembles this area quite remarkably, and it's only 1.5 
billion miles away!

Frank Stroik