Orbital Evidence for Clay and Acidic Sulfate Assemblages on Mars and Mineralogical Analogs from Rio Tinto, Spain
Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 14:25
2007 (Moscone West)
A suite of enigmatic near-infrared reflectance spectra with a ‘doublet’ absorption between 2.2 and 2.3 µm is observed in CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) hyperspectral images over Ius and Melas Chasma on Mars. The doublet-bearing deposits are found alongside other hydrated minerals including clays, sulfates, and silica, but the mineral(s) responsible for the spectral signature has yet to be identified. Reflectance spectra of rocks and sediments at Rio Tinto, Spain exhibit similar absorptions at airborne, field, and lab spatial scales. Coupled X-ray diffraction and reflectance spectra of these terrestrial examples indicate the absorption arises from a mixture of jarosite, a ferric sulfate, and Al-phyllosilicates (illite/muscovite). Detailed analysis of CRISM data over Ius and Melas Chasma suggests that these deposits also contain mixtures of jarosite and Al-phyllosilicate, where the latter may include halloysite, kaolinite and/or montmorillonite in addition to illite/muscovite. This interpretation is supported because (1) the two absorptions in the doublet feature vary independently, implying the presence of two or more phases, (2) the position of the absorptions is consistent with Al-OH and Fe-OH vibrations in both the Rio Tinto and CRISM spectra and (3) Al-phyllosilicates and jarosite are identified separately in nearby regions. Multiple formation mechanisms are proposed based on stratigraphy in Ius Chasma, where the strength of absorptions varies within a single stratigraphic unit as well as between different units. Mechanisms include authigenic formation of jarosite, which would indicate locally acidic and oxidizing conditions, mixed with detrial Al-phyllosilicates, or authigenic formation of Al-phyllosilicates and jarosite. Each implies different conditions in terms of aqueous geochemistry, redox, and sediment transport. Results from the field, lab, and CRISM analysis will be presented to discuss how placing these spectral observations in proper geologic context is critical for assessing water-rock interaction through space and time within Valles Marineris on Mars.