Browsing by Author "Murchie, Scott L."
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- ItemA synthesis of Martian aqueous mineralogy after 1 Mars year of observations from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter(2009) Murchie, Scott L.; Mustard, John F.; Ehlmann, Bethany L.; Milliken, Ralph E.; Bishop, Janice L.; McKeown, Nancy K.; Noe Dobrea, Eldar Z.; Seelos, Frank P.; Buczkowski, Debra L.; Wiseman, Sandra M.; Arvidson, Raymond E.; Wray, James J.; Swayze, Gregg A.; Clark, Roger N.; Des Marais, David J.; McEwen, Alfred S.; Bibring, Jean-PierreMartian aqueous mineral deposits have been examined and characterized using data acquired during Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's (MRO) primary science phase, including Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars hyperspectral images covering the 0.4-3.9 mu m wavelength range, coordinated with higher-spatial resolution HiRISE and Context Imager images. MRO's new high-resolution measurements, combined with earlier data from Thermal Emission Spectrometer; Thermal Emission Imaging System; and Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, L'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activitie on Mars Express, indicate that aqueous minerals are both diverse and widespread on the Martian surface. The aqueous minerals occur in 9-10 classes of deposits characterized by distinct mineral assemblages, morphologies, and geologic settings. Phyllosilicates occur in several settings: in compositionally layered blankets hundreds of meters thick, superposed on eroded Noachian terrains; in lower layers of intracrater depositional fans; in layers with potential chlorides in sediments on intercrater plains; and as thousands of deep exposures in craters and escarpments. Carbonate-bearing rocks form a thin unit surrounding the Isidis basin. Hydrated silica occurs with hydrated sulfates in thin stratified deposits surrounding Valles Marineris. Hydrated sulfates also occur together with crystalline ferric minerals in thick, layered deposits in Terra Meridiani and in Valles Marineris and together with kaolinite in deposits that partially infill some highland craters. In this paper we describe each of the classes of deposits, review hypotheses for their origins, identify new questions posed by existing measurements, and consider their implications for ancient habitable environments. On the basis of current data, two to five classes of Noachian-aged deposits containing phyllosilicates and carbonates may have formed in aqueous environments with pH and water activities suitable for life.
- ItemCharacterization of phyllosilicates observed in the central Mawrth Vallis region, Mars, their potential formational processes, and implications for past climate(2009) McKeown, Nancy K.; Bishop, Janice L.; Noe Dobrea, Eldar Z.; Ehlmann, Bethany L.; Parente, Mario; Mustard, John F.; Murchie, Scott L.; Swayze, Gregg A.; Bibring, Jean-Pierre; Silver, Eli A.Mawrth Vallis contains one of the largest exposures of phyllosilicates on Mars. Nontronite, montmorillonite, kaolinite, and hydrated silica have been identified throughout the region using data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM). In addition, saponite has been identified in one observation within a crater. These individual minerals are identified and distinguished by features at 1.38-1.42, approximately 1.91, and 2.17-2.41 mu m. There are two main phyllosilicate units in the Mawrth Vallis region. The lowermost unit is nontronite bearing, unconformably overlain by an Al-phyllosilicate unit containing montmorillonite plus hydrated silica, with a thin layer of kaolinite plus hydrated silica at the top of the unit. These two units are draped by a spectrally unremarkable capping unit. Smectites generally form in neutral to alkaline environments, while kaolinite and hydrated silica typically form in slightly acidic conditions; thus, the observed phyllosilicates may reflect a change in aqueous chemistry. Spectra retrieved near the boundary between the nontronite and Al-phyllosilicate units exhibit a strong positive slope from 1 to 2 mu m, likely from a ferrous component within the rock. This ferrous component indicates either rapid deposition in an oxidizing environment or reducing conditions. Formation of each of the phyllosilicate minerals identified requires liquid water, thus indicating a regional wet period in the Noachian when these units formed. The two main phyllosilicate units may be extensive layers of altered volcanic ash. Other potential formational processes include sediment deposition into a marine or lacustrine basin or pedogenesis.
- ItemMineralogy and stratigraphy of phyllosilicate‐bearing and dark mantling units in the greater Mawrth Vallis/west Arabia Terra area: constraints on geological origin(2010) Noe Dobrea, Eldar Z.; Bishop, Janice L.; McKeown, Nancy K.; Fu, R.; Rossi, C. M.; Michalski, Joseph R.; Heinlein, C.; Hanus, V.; Poulet, Francois; Mustard, John F.; Murchie, Scott L.; McEwen, Alfred S.; Swayze, Gregg A.; Bibring, Jean-Pierre; Malaret, E.; Hash, C.Analyses of MRO/CRISM images of the greater Mawrth Vallis region of Mars affirm the presence of two primary phyllosilicate assemblages throughout a region ∼1000 × 1000 km. These two units consist of an Fe/Mg‐phyllosilicate assemblage overlain by an Al‐phyllosilicate and hydrated silica assemblage. The lower unit contains Fe/Mg‐ smectites, sometimes combined with one or more of these other Fe/Mg‐phyllosilicates: serpentine, chlorite, biotite, and/or vermiculite. It is more than 100 m thick and finely layered at meter scales. The upper unit includes Al‐smectite, kaolin group minerals, and hydrated silica. It is tens of meters thick and finely layered as well. A common phyllosilicate stratigraphy and morphology is observed throughout the greater region wherever erosional windows are present. This suggests that the geologic processes forming these units must have occurred on at least a regional scale. Sinuous ridges (interpreted to be inverted channels) and narrow channels cut into the upper clay‐bearing unit suggesting that aqueous processes were prevalent after, and possibly during, the deposition of the layered units. We propose that layered units may have been deposited at Mawrth Vallis and then subsequently altered to form the hydrated units. The Fe/Mg‐phyllosilicate assemblage is consistent with hydrothermal alteration or pedogenesis of mafic to ultramafic rocks. The Al‐phyllosilicate/hydrated silica unit may have formed through alteration of felsic material or via leaching of basaltic material through pedogenic alteration or a mildly acidic environment. These phyllosilicate‐bearing units are overlain by a darker, relatively unaltered, and indurated material that has probably experienced a complex geological history.
- ItemMineralogy of Juventae Chasma: sulfates in the light-toned mounds, mafic minerals in the bedrock, and hydrated silica and hydroxylated ferric sulfate on the plateau(2009) Bishop, Janice L.; Parente, Mario; Weitz, Catherine M.; Noe Dobrea, Eldar Z.; Roach, Leah H.; Murchie, Scott L.; McGuire, Patrick C.; McKeown, Nancy K.; Rossi, Christopher M.; Brown, Adrian J.; Calvin, Wendy M.; Milliken, Ralph E.; Mustard, John F.Juventae Chasma contains four light-toned sulfate-bearing mounds (denoted here as A-D from west to east) inside the trough, mafic outcrops at the base of the mounds and in the wall rock, and light-toned layered deposits of opal and ferric sulfates on the plateau. Hyperspectral visible/near-infrared Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) spectra were used to identify monohydrated and polyhydrated sulfate (PHS) outcrops of layered material on the bright mounds. Most of the monohydrated sulfate signatures closely resemble those of szomolnokite (FeSO (sub 4) H (sub 2) O), characterized by a water band near 2.08 mu m, while some areas exhibit spectral features more similar to those of kieserite (MgSO (sub 4) H (sub 2) O), with a band centered closer to 2.13 mu m. The largest PHS outcrops occur on the top of mound B, and their spectral features are most consistent with ferricopiapite, melanterite, and starkeyite, but a specific mineral cannot be uniquely identified at this time. Coordinated analyses of CRISM maps, Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter elevations, and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment images suggest that mounds A and B may have formed together and then eroded into separate mounds, while mounds C and D likely formed separately. Mafic minerals (low-Ca pyroxene, high-Ca pyroxene, and olivine) are observed in large approximately 2-10 km wide outcrops in the wall rock and in smaller outcrops approximately 50-500 m across at the floor of the canyon. Most of the wall rock is covered by at least a thin layer of dust and does not exhibit strong features characteristic of these minerals. The plateau region northwest of Juventae Chasma is characterized by an abundance of light-toned layered deposits. One region contains two spectrally unique phases exhibiting a highly stratified, terraced pattern. CRISM spectra of one unit eroded into swirling patterns with arc-like ridges exhibit a narrow 2.23-mu m band assigned to hydroxylated ferric sulfate. A thin layer of a fractured material bearing an opaline silica phase is observed at the contact between the older plateau unit and the younger hydroxylated ferric sulfate-bearing light-toned layered deposits. Hydrothermal processes may have produced an acidic environment that fostered formation of the hydrated silica and hydroxylated ferric sulfate units.
- ItemNear-Infrared imaging spectroscopy of the surface of Mars at meter-scales to constrain the geological origin of hydrous alteration products, identify candidate sites and samples for future in-situ and sample return missions, and guide rover operations(2009) Noe Dobrea, Eldar Z.; Murchie, Scott L.; Mustard, John F.; Bishop, Janice L.; McKeown, Nancy K.Near-infrared (NIR; 1-4 um) imaging spectroscopy of Mars has proven itself to be critical in the identification and mapping of the distribution of aqueous alteration products on Mars, and has also been a key player in the process of Landing Site Selection for MSL. In this paper, we argue that increasing the spatial resolution to the meter scale from orbit, and mounting a NIR imaging spectrometer or hyperspectral imager on a rover will result in significant scientific benefits including 1) the identification of new hydrous minerals, 2) setting better constraints of spatial and stratigraphic distribution of the hydrous minerals within outcrops, 3) characterization of bed and unit boundaries and transitions, and 4) identification and analysis of smaller features apparent at MOC and HiRISE scales. In addition to improving the scientific return of both orbital and rover missions, high spatial resolution NIR imaging spectrometers will be critical in the traverse selection, operations, and sample acquisition of future rover missions.
- ItemPhyllosilicate diversity and past aqueous activity revealed at Mawrth Vallis, Mars(2008) Bishop, Janice L.; Noe Dobrea, Eldar Z.; McKeown, Nancy K.; Parente, Mario; Ehlmann, Bethany L.; Michalski, Joseph R.; Milliken, Ralph E.; Poulet, Francois; Swayze, Gregg A.; Mustard, John F.; Murchie, Scott L.; Bibring, Jean-PierreObservations by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter/Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars in the Mawrth Vallis region show several phyllosilicate species, indicating a wide range of past aqueous activity. Iron/magnesium (Fe/Mg)--smectite is observed in light-toned outcrops that probably formed via aqueous alteration of basalt of the ancient cratered terrain. This unit is overlain by rocks rich in hydrated silica, montmorillonite, and kaolinite that may have formed via subsequent leaching of Fe and Mg through extended aqueous events or a change in aqueous chemistry. A spectral feature attributed to an Fe²⁺ phase is present in many locations in the Mawrth Vallis region at the transition from Fe/Mg-smectite to aluminum/silicon (Al/Si)--rich units. Fe²⁺-bearing materials in terrestrial sediments are typically associated with microorganisms or changes in pH or cations and could be explained here by hydrothermal activity. The stratigraphy of Fe/Mg-smectite overlain by a ferrous phase, hydrated silica, and then Al-phyllosilicates implies a complex aqueous history.
- ItemWhat the ancient phyllosilicates at Mawrth Vallis can tell us about possible habitability on early Mars(2013) Bishop, Janice L.; Loizeau, Damien; McKeown, Nancy K.; Saper, Lee; Dyar, M. Darby; Des Marais, David J.; Parente, Mario; Murchie, Scott L.Phyllosilicate deposits on Mars provide an opportunity to evaluate aqueous activity and the possibility that habitable environments may have existed during the Noachian period there. Analysis of hyperspectral visible/near-infrared (VNIR) Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) images has shown thick, complex profiles of phyllosilicates at Mawrth Vallis, Mars that are consistent with long-term aqueous activity and active chemistry. The ancient phyllosilicates in places such as this could have served as reaction centers for organic molecules. Previous experiments even suggest that phyllosilicates could have played a role in the origin of life. Regardless of whether life formed on early Mars or not, evaluating the type and thickness of clay-bearing units on Mars provides insights into plausible aqueous processes and chemical conditions both during the time of formation of the phyllosilicates, but also the subsequent period following their formation. The phyllosilicate outcrops at Mawrth Vallis extend across a broad (∼1000km) region and exhibit a consistent general trend of Al-phyllosilicates and amorphous Al/Si species at the top of the clay profile and Fe/Mg-phyllosilicates on the bottom. This implies either a change in water chemistry, a change in material being altered, or an alteration profile where the upper clays were leached and altered more significantly than those below. A change in iron in the phyllosilicate units is also observed such that an Fe2+-bearing unit is frequently observed between the Fe3+- and Mg-rich phyllosilicates below and the Al/Si-rich materials above. Abrupt changes in chemistry like this are often indicative of biogeochemical activity on Earth. Possible microbe-clay interactions are considered in comparison with the CRISM observations. This study evaluates CRISM spectra from four images of different outcrops across the Mawrth Vallis region and evaluates the observed phyllosilicates and clay components in terms of plausible aqueous and microbial processes and the potential for retention of biosignatures, if present.