Aqueous alteration processes on Mars

Needham, A. W.; Tomkinson, T. and Grady, M. M. (2009). Aqueous alteration processes on Mars. In: 72nd Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society Meeting, 13-18 Jul 2009, Nancy, France.



The search for life beyond Earth is the driving motivation for present and planned missions to Mars by both NASA and ESA. Developing a full understanding of the aqueous history of the Martian surface and sub-surface is essential because of the key role water plays in the history of life. In lieu of a sample return mission, and assuming that such a mission will excavate samples from only near-surface lithologies, martian meteorites continue to provide unique records of sub-surface aqueous activity on Mars.
As part of a continuing investigation of aqueous flow on Mars, we have undertaken systematic analyses of the secondary mineral assemblages within nakhlites. These assemblages are complex mixtures of clay minerals, carbonates, sulphates, oxides and iron oxy-hydroxides [1-3], and are indicative of alteration sequences that may be related to different fluid flow regimes (groundwater, hydrothermal, crater lake) including evaporation of fluids and interaction with the atmosphere and bedrock [2,3].

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