Magmatic intrusions into sulfur-rich sediments on the Colorado Plateau: an analog for Mars exploration

Crandall, J. R.; Potter-McIntyre, S. L.; Schwenzer, S. P. and Filiberto, J. (2017). Magmatic intrusions into sulfur-rich sediments on the Colorado Plateau: an analog for Mars exploration. In: 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 20-24 Mar 2017, Houston.



Mafic magmatism is a prevalent geologic process on Earth, and is a principal source of subsurface geologic change and energy influx on postNoachian Mars. While rare on Earth, the intrusion of mafic magmas into sulfur-rich soils and rocks is expected on Mars due to the observation of widespread high sulfur concentrations in Martian soils. On Mars, soils have been found to be rich in sulfur. Respectively, soil samples from Gusev Crater and Gale Crater contain between 4-8 weight percent, and 4-7 weight percent SO3, though ammounts[sic] as high as 31 weight percent have been measured in Gusev crater. With widespread sulfur-rich sediments and evidence of magmatism both ancient and young, mafic intrusions into rocks and sediments bearing significant quantities of sulfur species is expected on Mars. Processes associated with the magmatic intrusion of a sulfur-rich host, including degassing and alteration, may provide the requisite energy and nutrients for biological activity.

On Earth, well exposed mafic dikes intrude the sulfur-rich sedimentary formations of the Jurassic San Rafael Group. Approximately 200 dikes, sills, and breccias can be found in proximity to the San Rafael Swell in Utah, and represent an Earth analog for a scenario of mafic magma intruding sulfur-rich sediments. Here we will investigate such an analog; a mafic dike intruding the sulfur-rich Jurassic Carmel Formation of the San Rafael Group.

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