In situ radiometric and exposure age dating of the martian surface

K.A. Farley*, C. Malespin, P. Mahaffy, J.P. Grotzinger, P.M. Vasconcelos, R.E. Milliken, M. Malin, K.S. Edgett, A.A. Pavlov, J.A. Hurowitz, J.A. Grant, H.B. Miller, R. Arvidson, L. Beegle, F. Calef, P.G. Conrad, W.E. Dietrich, J. Eigenbrode, R. Gellert, S. GuptaV. Hamilton, D.M. Hassler, K.W. Lewis, S.M. McLennan, D. Ming, Rafael Navarro-Gonzalez, Susanne P. Schwenzer, A. Steele, E.M. Stolper, D. Y. Sumner, David T. Vaniman, Ashwin Vasavada, K.H. Williford, R.F. Wimmer-Schweingruber, MSL Science Team

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We determined radiogenic and cosmogenic noble gases in a mudstone on the floor of Gale Crater. A K-Ar age of 4.21 ± 0.35 billion years represents a mixture of detrital and authigenic components and confirms the expected antiquity of rocks comprising the crater rim. Cosmic-ray-produced 3He, 21Ne, and 36Ar yield concordant surface exposure ages of 78 ± 30 million years. Surface exposure occurred mainly in the present geomorphic setting rather than during primary erosion and transport. Our observations are consistent with mudstone deposition shortly after the Gale impact or possibly in a later event of rapid erosion and deposition. The mudstone remained buried until recent exposure by wind-driven scarp retreat. Sedimentary rocks exposed by this mechanism may thus offer the best potential for organic biomarker preservation against destruction by cosmic radiation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1247166
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume343
Issue number6169
Early online date9 Dec 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

The authors are indebted to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Project engineering and management teams for their exceptionally skilled and diligent efforts in making the mission as effective as possible and enhancing science operations. We are also grateful to all those MSL team members who participated in tactical and strategic operations. Without the support of both the engineering and science teams, the data presented here could not have been collected. Three anonymous reviewers provided many helpful suggestions. Some of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Data presented in this paper are archived in the Planetary Data System

Keywords

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Martian surface

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