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Hematite-bearing materials surrounding Candor Mensa in Candor Chasma, Mars: Implications for hematite origin and post-emplacement modification

July 15, 2014

The Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars is of enduring scientific interest in part due to the presence of interior mounds that contain extensive layering and water-altered minerals, such as crystalline gray hematite and hydrated sulfates. The presence of hematite and hydrated sulfate minerals is important because their host rock lithologies provide information about past environments that may have supported liquid water and may have been habitable. This work further defines the association and relationship between hematite-bearing materials and low albedo (presumably aeolian) deposits and layered materials, identifies physical characteristics that are strongly correlated with the presence of hematite, and refines hypotheses for the origin and post-emplacement modification (including transport) of these hematite-bearing and associated materials. There are only three regions surrounding Candor Mensa where hematite has been identified, even though morphologic properties are similar throughout the entire mensa. Three possible explanations for why hematite is only exposed in these regions include: (1) the topographic structure of the mensa walls concentrates hematite at the base of the layered deposits, influencing the ability to detect hematite from orbit; (2) the presence of differing amounts of “dark mantling material” and hematite-free erosional sediment; (3) the potential fracturing of the mensa and the influence of these structures on fluid flow and subsequent digenesis. The observations of hematite-bearing materials in this work support the hypothesis that hematite is eroding from a unit in the Candor Mensa interior layered deposits (ILD) and is being concentrated as a lag deposit adjacent to the lower layers of Candor Mensa and at the base in the form of dark aeolian material. Due to the similar geologic context associated with hematite-bearing and ILD materials throughout the Valles Marineris canyon system, the insight gained from studying these materials surrounding Candor Mensa can likely be applicable to similar layered deposits throughout Valles Marineris.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Hematite-bearing materials surrounding Candor Mensa in Candor Chasma, Mars: Implications for hematite origin and post-emplacement modification
DOI 10.1016/j.icarus.2014.04.038
Authors Robin L. Fergason, Lisa R. Gaddis, A. D. Rogers
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Series Number
Index ID 70168863
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center

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