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Chemistry, mineralogy, and grain properties at Namib and High dunes, Bagnold dune field, Gale crater, Mars: A synthesis of Curiosity rover observations

, 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 1 , 8 , 2 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 6 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 15 , 11 , 2 , 13 , 14 , 18 , 2 , 14 , 5 , 11 , 2 , 5 , 19 , 14 , 18 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 1 , 18 , 24 , 2 , 14 , 15 , 25 , 2

Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets

John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Mars soils, sand dunes, dust, amorphous phase, volatiles, grain size

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      Abstract

      The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover performed coordinated measurements to examine the textures and compositions of aeolian sands in the active Bagnold dune field. The Bagnold sands are rounded to subrounded, very fine to medium sized (~45–500 μm) with ≥6 distinct grain colors. In contrast to sands examined by Curiosity in a dust‐covered, inactive bedform called Rocknest and soils at other landing sites, Bagnold sands are darker, less red, better sorted, have fewer silt‐sized or smaller grains, and show no evidence for cohesion. Nevertheless, Bagnold mineralogy and Rocknest mineralogy are similar with plagioclase, olivine, and pyroxenes in similar proportions comprising >90% of crystalline phases, along with a substantial amorphous component (35% ± 15%). Yet Bagnold and Rocknest bulk chemistry differ. Bagnold sands are Si enriched relative to other soils at Gale crater, and H 2O, S, and Cl are lower relative to all previously measured Martian soils and most Gale crater rocks. Mg, Ni, Fe, and Mn are enriched in the coarse‐sieved fraction of Bagnold sands, corroborated by visible/near‐infrared spectra that suggest enrichment of olivine. Collectively, patterns in major element chemistry and volatile release data indicate two distinctive volatile reservoirs in Martian soils: (1) amorphous components in the sand‐sized fraction (represented by Bagnold) that are Si‐enriched, hydroxylated alteration products and/or H 2O‐ or OH‐bearing impact or volcanic glasses and (2) amorphous components in the fine fraction (<40 μm; represented by Rocknest and other bright soils) that are Fe, S, and Cl enriched with low Si and adsorbed and structural H 2O.

      Key Points

      • Because of ongoing aeolian activity, the Bagnold dunes consist of well‐sorted sands and lack the finer grains typical of Martian soils

      • Dune sands are chemically distinct with elevated Si, Mg, and Ni and lower H 2O, S, and Cl relative to all previously measured Martian fines

      • Two distinct, water‐/OH‐bearing amorphous components are identified: Fe‐, S‐, and Cl‐rich material in dust and Si‐rich material in the sands

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      Most cited references 128

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      A habitable fluvio-lacustrine environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale crater, Mars.

      The Curiosity rover discovered fine-grained sedimentary rocks, which are inferred to represent an ancient lake and preserve evidence of an environment that would have been suited to support a martian biosphere founded on chemolithoautotrophy. This aqueous environment was characterized by neutral pH, low salinity, and variable redox states of both iron and sulfur species. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus were measured directly as key biogenic elements; by inference, phosphorus is assumed to have been available. The environment probably had a minimum duration of hundreds to tens of thousands of years. These results highlight the biological viability of fluvial-lacustrine environments in the post-Noachian history of Mars.
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        Sedimentary rocks of early Mars.

        Layered and massive outcrops on Mars, some as thick as 4 kilometers, display the geomorphic attributes and stratigraphic relations of sedimentary rock. Repeated beds in some locations imply a dynamic depositional environment during early martian history. Subaerial (such as eolian, impact, and volcaniclastic) and subaqueous processes may have contributed to the formation of the layers. Affinity for impact craters suggests dominance of lacustrine deposition; alternatively, the materials were deposited in a dry, subaerial setting in which atmospheric density, and variations thereof mimic a subaqueous depositional environment. The source regions and transport paths for the materials are not preserved.
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          Stratigraphy and sedimentology of a dry to wet eolian depositional system, Burns formation, Meridiani Planum, Mars

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [ 1 ] Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences California Institute of Technology Pasadena California USA
            [ 2 ] Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology Pasadena California USA
            [ 3 ] Malin Space Science Systems San Diego California USA
            [ 4 ] Jacobs Technology Houston Texas USA
            [ 5 ] NASA Johnson Space Center Houston Texas USA
            [ 6 ] Department of Geosciences University of Arizona Tucson Arizona USA
            [ 7 ] Space Research Institute—RAS Moscow Russia
            [ 8 ] Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science Cornell University Ithaca New York USA
            [ 9 ] Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in Saint Louis Saint Louis Missouri USA
            [ 10 ] Exobiology Branch NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field California USA
            [ 11 ] Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Laurel Maryland USA
            [ 12 ] Deceased 26 April 2017
            [ 13 ] NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt Maryland USA
            [ 14 ] Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie CNRS‐Université Toulouse Toulouse France
            [ 15 ] School of Earth and Space Exploration Arizona State University Tempe Arizona USA
            [ 16 ] Guelph‐Waterloo Physics Institute University of Guelph Guelph Ontario Canada
            [ 17 ] Department of Space Studies Southwest Research Institute Boulder Colorado USA
            [ 18 ] Observatoire Midi‐Pyrénées Université de Toulouse Toulouse France
            [ 19 ] Planetary and Space Science Centre University of New Brunswick Fredericton New Brunswick Canada
            [ 20 ] Department of Geology and Geophysics University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Honolulu Hawaii USA
            [ 21 ] Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie Toulouse France
            [ 22 ] Institut für Optische Sensorsysteme German Aerospace Center (DLR) Berlin Germany
            [ 23 ] Department of Geosciences Stony Brook University Stony Brook New York USA
            [ 24 ] Planetary Science Institute Tucson Arizona USA
            [ 25 ] Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos New Mexico USA
            Author notes
            [* ] Correspondence to: B. L. Ehlmann,

            ehlmann@ 123456caltech.edu

            Contributors
            ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2745-3240, ehlmann@caltech.edu
            Journal
            J Geophys Res Planets
            J Geophys Res Planets
            10.1002/(ISSN)2169-9100
            JGRE
            Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets
            John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
            2169-9097
            2169-9100
            07 December 2017
            December 2017
            : 122
            : 12 ( doiID: 10.1002/jgre.v122.12 )
            : 2510-2543
            5815393 10.1002/2017JE005267 JGRE20693 2017JE005267
            ©2017. The Authors.

            This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

            Counts
            Figures: 19, Tables: 5, Pages: 34, Words: 13359
            Product
            Funding
            Funded by: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
            Categories
            Investigations of the Bagnold Dune Field, Gale crater
            Geochemistry
            Planetary Geochemistry
            Mineralogy and Petrology
            Planetary Mineralogy and Petrology
            Planetary Sciences: Solid Surface Planets
            Composition
            Erosion and Weathering
            Physical Properties of Materials
            Surface Materials and Properties
            Planetary Sciences: Solar System Objects
            Mars
            Research Article
            Research Articles
            Custom metadata
            2.0
            jgre20693
            December 2017
            Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:version=5.3.2.2 mode:remove_FC converted:16.02.2018

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