Fluids during diagenesis and sulfate vein formation in sediments at Gale crater, Mars

S. P. Schwenzer*, J. C. Bridges, R. C. Wiens, P. G. Conrad, S. P. Kelley, R. Leveille, N. Mangold, J. Martín-Torres, A. McAdam, H. Newsom, M. P. Zorzano, W. Rapin, J. Spray, A. H. Treiman, F. Westall, A. G. Fairén, P. -Y. Meslin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We model the fluids involved in the alteration processes recorded in the Sheepbed Member mudstones of Yellowknife Bay (YKB), Gale crater, Mars, as revealed by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover investigations. We compare the Gale crater waters with fluids modeled for shergottites, nakhlites, and the ancient meteorite ALH 84001, as well as rocks analyzed by the Mars Exploration rovers, and with terrestrial ground and surface waters. The aqueous solution present during sediment alteration associated with phyllosilicate formation at Gale was high in Na, K, and Si; had low Mg, Fe, and Al concentrations—relative to terrestrial groundwaters such as the Deccan Traps and other modeled Mars fluids; and had near neutral to alkaline pH. Ca and S species were present in the 10-3 to 10-2 concentration range. A fluid local to Gale crater strata produced the alteration products observed by Curiosity and subsequent evaporation of this groundwater-type fluid formed impure sulfate- and silica-rich deposits—veins or horizons. In a second, separate stage of alteration, partial dissolution of this sulfate-rich layer in Yellowknife Bay, or beyond, led to the pure sulfate veins observed in YKB. This scenario is analogous to similar processes identified at a terrestrial site in Triassic sediments with gypsum veins of the Mercia Mudstone Group in Watchet Bay, UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2175-2202
Number of pages28
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number11
Early online date20 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

We thank the two reviewers Brian Hynek and Sally Potter‐McIntyre and AE Justin Filiberto for their insightful comments, which improved the presentation of this article. We are grateful to Mark H. Reed and his team for providing CHIM‐XPT for this study. Support from the engineers, colleagues in operations roles, and staff of NASA Mars Science Laboratory Mission are gratefully acknowledged. JCB and SPS acknowledge funding from the UK Space Agency, SPS additional funding through an Open University Research Investment Fellowship. F.W. acknowledges CNES funding.


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