Excavation of Stratified Phyllosilicate-Bearing Rocks in the Northern Plains of Mars

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Christoph Gross, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany, John Carter, IAS Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay Cedex, France, Livio L Tornabene, University of Western Ontario, Washington, ON, Canada, Mariam Sowe, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany and Janice L Bishop, SETI Institute Mountain View, Mountain View, CA, United States
The Noachian southern highlands of Mars bear old crustal material which appears mostly unaltered (Bandfield, 2002; Bibring et al., 2005; Christensen et al., 2005) and contains phyllosilicate-rich material. Phyllosilicates are of particular interest, as they require the presence of liquid water over long terms and may represent habitable environments. Most phyllosilicates formed early in Mars’ history during the Noachian period (Bibring et al., 2006). However, a set of Hesperian–aged impact craters, Toro (Marzo et al., 2010) and Majuro (Mangold et al., 2012) bear evidence for impact–induced hydrothermal activity in the southern highlands. Phyllosilicate outcrops in the northern plains are exclusively found in and around impact craters. This could lead to the conclusion that they might form excavation products of preexisting, buried deposits, exposed by impacting and erosion (Carter et al. 2010; Bibring et al. 2006; Murchie et al. 2009). Nevertheless, when investigating alteration associated with impact craters, pre-, syn- and post-impact scenarios have to be considered (Osinski et al., 2013; Tornabene et al., 2013). We revisited a set of impact sites described by Carter et al. (2010) for further investigation and to test the theory of impact excavation of old preexisting strata versus impact-induced hydrothermal activity. This can be achieved as coverage of high resolution data has drastically increased during the time of that study. We here report the presence of uplifted, stratified, phyllosilicate-rich material in an impact crater, located in the northern plains of Mars, close to the dichotomy boundary.

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