Martian Fluvial Conglomerates at Gale Crater

Williams, R. M. E.; Grotzinger, J. P.; Dietrich, W. E.; Gupta, S.; Sumner, D. Y; Wiens, R. C.; Mangold, N.; Malin, M. C.; Edgett, K. S.; Maurice, S.; Forni, O.; Gasnault, O.; Ollila, A.; Newsom, H. E.; Dromart, G.; Palucis, M. C.; Yingst, R. A.; Anderson, R. B.; Herkenhoff, K. E.; Le Mouelic, S.; Goetz, W.; Madsen, M. B.; Koefoed, A.; Jensen, J. K.; Bridges, J. C.; Schwenzer, S. P.; Lewis, K. W.; Stack, K. M.; Rubin, D.; Kah, L. C.; Bell III, J. F.; Farmer, J. D.; Sullivan, R.; Van Beek, T.; Blaney, D. L.; Pariser, O. and Deen, R. G. (2013). Martian Fluvial Conglomerates at Gale Crater. Science, 340(6136) pp. 1068–1072.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1237317

Abstract

Observations by the Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera (Mastcam) in Gale crater reveal isolated outcrops of cemented pebbles (2 to 40 millimeters in diameter) and sand grains with textures typical of fluvial sedimentary conglomerates. Rounded pebbles in the conglomerates indicate substantial fluvial abrasion. ChemCam emission spectra at one outcrop show a predominantly feldspathic composition, consistent with minimal aqueous alteration of sediments. Sediment was mobilized in ancient water flows that likely exceeded the threshold conditions (depth 0.03 to 0.9 meter, average velocity 0.20 to 0.75 meter per second) required to transport the pebbles. Climate conditions at the time sediment was transported must have differed substantially from the cold, hyper-arid modern environment to permit aqueous flows across several kilometers.

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