Zinc Enrichments in the Rocks of Gale Crater, Mars Measured by MSL-APXS Reflect Both High Zn in Jake_M Rocks and the Concentration of Zn in Sedimentary Cements

Friday, 19 December 2014
Jeff A. Berger, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada, Mariek E Schmidt, Brock University, St Catharines, ON, Canada, Ralf Gellert, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada and Martin R Fisk, Oregon State Univ, Corvallis, OR, United States
Zinc enrichments have been discovered by Curiosity’s alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) in Gale Crater, Mars. Mugearitic Jake_M class rocks have 80-925 ppm Zn (Zn error in APXS accuracy ~16%), which is higher than shergottites (49-90 ppm) [Meyer, 2012] and abraded Adirondack rocks in Gusev Crater (75–117 ppm) [Gellert et al., 2006], but similar to Irvine and Barnhill class rocks in Gusev (230–422 ppm) [Ming et al., 2008]. The source of Jake_M was enriched in Zn, possibly by partial melting of metasomatized mantle [Stolper et al., 2013; Schmidt et al., 2014]. Relative to Jake_M, most clastic rocks encountered in Gale (sols 0–687) are moderately enriched in Zn (500–1900 ppm). Surface alteration is unlikely to cause elevated Zn because soils have lower Zn (310 to 380 ppm). Excluding soils, veins, very dusty rocks, and high-Ni John Klein rocks, Zn correlates with Fe, Mn, Cr, and Ni (r = 0.83, 0.68, 0.72, and 0.67, respectively). The positive relationships suggest that Zn is mobilized with these metals, possibly precipitating in oxide sedimentary cements with Fe-oxides and/or in the Fe-rich amorphous component. In this subset of rocks, Zn does not correlate with Cl, Br, or S; widespread Zn-halogen salts and Zn-sulfides are unlikely. Notable exceptions are the float rocks Et_Then and Secure, which have high FeO (25–27 wt%) but low Zn (~230–490 ppm) and are interpreted to reflect a distinct cementation or rock coating episode. Two Gale targets <1 m apart at the Kimberly outcrop are highly enriched in Zn, demonstrating the localized nature of Zn enrichments: Windjana drill fines (3430-4680 ppm Zn) have high K2O (3.6 wt%), FeO (~26 wt%), MnO (~0.56 wt%), and Ni (~380 ppm); Stephen (~8150 ppm Zn), interpreted to have a MnO-rich (~4.5 wt%) coating, also has high Ni (~1285 ppm), Cl (~3.2 wt%), and Br (~1850 ppm). An igneous origin of the Zn enrichments in Jake M class rocks is likely, and hydrothermal and/or diagenetic processes probably concentrated Zn in the clastic outcrops. The conditions implied by this model constrain the fluid history and habitability of Gale Crater.