On Mars, seasonal martian flow features known as recurring slope lineae (RSL) are prevalent on sun-facing slopes and are associated with salts. On Earth, subsurface interactions of gypsum with chlorides and oxychlorine salts wreak havoc: instigating sinkholes, cave collapse, debris flows, and upheave. Here, we illustrate (i) the disruptive potential of sulfate-chloride reactions in laboratory soil crust experiments, (ii) the formation of thin films of mixed ice-liquid water “slush” at −40° to −20°C on salty Mars analog grains, (iii) how mixtures of sulfates and chlorine salts affect their solubilities in low-temperature environments, and (iv) how these salt brines could be contributing to RSL formation on Mars. Our results demonstrate that interactions of sulfates and chlorine salts in fine-grained soils on Mars could absorb water, expand, deliquesce, cause subsidence, form crusts, disrupt surfaces, and ultimately produce landslides after dust loading on these unstable surfaces.
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