Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover data are used to describe the morphology of desiccation cracks observed in ancient lacustrine strata at Gale crater, Mars, and to interpret their paleoenvironmental setting. The desiccation cracks indicate subaerial exposure of lacustrine facies in the Sutton Island member of the Murray formation. In association with ripple cross-stratification and possible eolian cross-bedding, these facies indicate a transition from longer-lived perennial lakes recorded by older strata to younger lakes characterized by intermittent exposure. The transition from perennial to episodically exposed lacustrine environments provides evidence for local to regional climate change that can help constrain Mars climate models.
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