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Alteration mineralogy of the Home Plate and Columbia Hills – formation conditions in context to impact, volcanism, and fluvial activity

Filiberto, Justin and Schwenzer, Susanne P. (2013). Alteration mineralogy of the Home Plate and Columbia Hills – formation conditions in context to impact, volcanism, and fluvial activity. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 48(10) pp. 1937–1957.

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The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit investigated the igneous and alteration mineralogy and chemistry of Home Plate and its surrounding deposits. Here, we focus on using thermochemical modeling to understand the secondary alteration mineralogy at the Home Plate outcrop and surrounding Columbia Hills region in Gusev crater. At high temperatures (300 °C), magnetite occurs at very high W/R ratios, but the alteration assemblage is dominated by chlorite and serpentine over most of the W/R range. Quartz, epidote, and typical high-T phases such as feldspar, pyroxene, and garnet occur at low W/R. At epithermal temperatures (150 °C), hematite occurs at very high W/R. A range of phyllosilicates, including kaolinite, nontronite, chlorite, and serpentine are precipitated at specific W/R. Amphibole, with garnet, feldspar, and pyroxene occur at low W/R. If the CO2 content of the system is high, the assemblage is dominated by carbonate with increasing amounts of an SiO2-phase, kaolinite, carpholite, and chlorite with lower W/R. At temperatures of hydrous weathering (13 °C), the oxide phase is goethite, silicates are chlorite, nontronite, and talc, plus an SiO2-phase. In the presence of CO2, the mineral assemblage at high W/R remains the same, and only at low W/R, i.e., with increasing salinity, carbonate precipitates. The geochemical gradients observed at Home Plate are attributed to short-lived, initially high (300 °C) temperature, but fast cooling events, which are in agreement with our models and our interpretation of a multistage alteration scenario of Home Plate and Gusev in general. Alteration at various temperatures and during different geological processes within Gusev crater has two effects, both of which increase the habitability of the local environment: precipitation of hydrous sheet silicates, and formation of a brine, which might contain elements essential for life in diluted, easily accessible form.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2013 The Meteoritical Society
ISSN: 1945-5100
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
From Atoms to PlanetsST/F003102/1STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
Keywords: Mars; habitability; alteration mineralogy; hydrous alteration
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Space
Item ID: 39397
Depositing User: Susanne Schwenzer
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2014 12:15
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2018 20:15
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