Volatile and organic compositions of sedimentary rocks in Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars

D.W. Ming*, P.D. Archer Jr., D.P. Glavin, J.L. Eigenbrode, H.B. Franz, B. Sutter, A.E. Brunner, J.C. Stern, C. Freissinet, A.C. McAdam, P.R. Mahaffy, M. Cabane, P. Coll, Campbell J.L., S.K. Atreya, P.B. Niles, J.F. Bell III, D.L. Bish, W.B. Brinckerhoff, A. BuchP.G. Conrad, D.J. Des Marais, B.L. Ehlmann, A.G. Fairén, K. Farley, G.J. Flesch, P. François, R. Gellert, J.A. Grant, J.P. Grotzinger, S Gupta, K.E. Herkenhoff, J.A. Hurowitz, L.A. Leshin, K.W. Lewis, Scott M. McLennan, K. E. Miller, J. Moersch, R. V. Morris, Rafael Navarro‐González, Alexander A. Pavlov, G. M. Perrett, Irina Pradler, S. W. Squyres, R. E. Summons, A. Steele, E.M. Stolper, D. Y. Sumner, C. Szopa, MSL Science Team

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

336 Citations (Scopus)


H2O, CO2, SO2, O2, H2, H2S, HCl, chlorinated hydrocarbons, NO, and other trace gases were evolved during pyrolysis of two mudstone samples acquired by the Curiosity rover at Yellowknife Bay within Gale crater, Mars. H2O/OH-bearing phases included 2:1 phyllosilicate(s), bassanite, akaganeite, and amorphous materials. Thermal decomposition of carbonates and combustion of organic materials are candidate sources for the CO2. Concurrent evolution of O2 and chlorinated hydrocarbons suggests the presence of oxychlorine phase(s). Sulfides are likely sources for sulfur-bearing species. Higher abundances of chlorinated hydrocarbons in the mudstone compared with Rocknest windblown materials previously analyzed by Curiosity suggest that indigenous martian or meteoritic organic carbon sources may be preserved in the mudstone; however, the carbon source for the chlorinated hydrocarbons is not definitively of martian origin.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1245267
Number of pages10
Issue number6169
Early online date9 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

We are indebted to the Mars Science Laboratory Project engineering and management teams for making this mission possible and enhancing science operations. Much of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA provided support for the
development of SAM. Data from these SAM experiments are archived in the Planetary Data System (pds.nasa.gov). Essential contributions to the successful operation of SAM on Mars and the acquisition of this data were provided by the SAM development, operations, and testbed teams. Development and operation of the SAM and APXS instruments were also supported by funds from the French Space Agency (CNES) and the Canadian Space Agency. Work in the UK was funded by the UK Space Agency. B.L.E., J.L.E., K.F., D.P.G., J.E.G., K.E.M., S.M.M., J.M., P.B.N., and R.E.S. acknowledge funding support from the NASA ROSES MSL Participating Scientist Program.


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