A channel system named Ma'adim Vallis drains into it that probably carried liquid water, or water and ice, at some point in Mars' past. The crater appears to be an old crater lake bed, filled with sediments up to 3000 feet thick. Some exposed outcrops appear to show faint layering, and some researchers also believe that landforms visible in images of the mouth of Ma'adim Vallis where it enters Gusev Crater resemble landforms seen in some terrestrial river deltas. Deltas of this nature can take tens or hundreds of thousands of years to form on Earth, suggesting that the water flows may have lasted for long periods. Orbital images indicate that there may once have been a very large lake near the source of Ma'adim Vallis that could have provided the source of this water. It is not known whether this flow was slow and continuous, punctuated by sporadic large outbursts, or some combination of these patterns.
More recently, satellite images show the trails of dust devils on Gusev Crater's floor.
On January 3 2004, Gusev Crater was the landing site of the first rover in NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers, named Spirit. It is hoped that the numerous smaller and more recent craters in this region will have exposed sedimentary material from early eras.
Crivitz crater is a smaller crater located within Gusev.