Chemical provinces reveal Elysium Volcano’s compositional evolution

Thursday, 18 December 2014
David Andrew Susko1, Suniti Karunatillake1, James J Wray2, John R Skok1, Joel Hurowitz3, Lujendra Ojha4, Taylor Judice1 and Rory O.J Bently1, (1)Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, United States, (2)Georgia Institute of Tech., Atlanta, GA, United States, (3)Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, United States, (4)Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Atlanta, GA, United States
Chemical provinces of Mars became definable[1-3] with the maps of elemental mass fractions generated with Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) data[4,5]. Previous work highlighted the Elysium lava flow province as anomalous, with a depletion in K and Th relative to the average crust in the rest of Mars (ROM).[3] We characterize the elemental composition, geology, and geomorphology of the region to constrain the processes that have contributed to its evolution.

We compare SE Elysium with its North West lava fields, advancing prior work on thermal evolution of the martian mantle.[6] Lava fields at both sites probably source from Elysium eruptions. Both show similar Si content, as well as a Ca-enrichment compared to ROM, consistent with prior models.[6,7] Nevertheless, the two fields are compositionally distinct from each other, with NW Elysium decisively depleted in Ca and Fe, but enriched in K and Th. Such distinctness, in elements that reflect magmatic fractionation, reveals the possibility that a single volcanic complex on Mars may evolve rapidly during the Amazonian era, causing variable flow compositions.

Interestingly, a chemical province containing volcanics that is contemporaneous with Elysium, overlaps the Tharsis region.[3] Unlike Elysium, the K and Th distributions within Tharsis are indistinguishable from ROM. Meanwhile, the mass fraction signature in Tharsis is enriched in Cl and depleted in Si. Such contrast, in chemical anomalies between volcanic constructs of similar age, may indicate that the depletion of K and Th in SE Elysium did not arise from temporal evolution of the mantle.

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