2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 202-9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


HEYDARI, Ezat1, YINGST, R. Aileen2, MINITTI, Michelle E.2, EDGETT, Kenneth S.3, MALIN, Michael C.4, GELLERT, Ralf5, THOMPSON, Lucy M.6, ROWLAND, Scott K.7 and KAH, Linda C.8, (1)Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, and Geoscience, Jackson State University, P.O. Box 17660, 1400 Lynch Street, Jackson, MS 39217, (2)Planetary Science Institute, 1700 E. Fort Lowell Rd., Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719, (3)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technolgy, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, (4)Malin Space Science Systems, P.O. Box 90148, San Diego, CA 92191-0148, (5)Dept. of Physics, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada, (6)University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada, (7)Department of Geology & Geophysics, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, (8)Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, 1412 Circle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996

Images of Martian sedimentary rocks acquired with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the first 550 sols reveal five textural classes in Gale crater, Mars. They are: mudstones, well sorted sandstones, poorly sorted sandstones, pebbly sandstones, and vuggy rocks (a type of unsorted, pebbly sandstone with millimeter-to-centimeter-sized pores). Comparison of bulk chemical compositions of these texturally distinct rock types analyzed by the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) exhibits well defined trends in elemental compositions with respect to grain size and sorting.

Concentrations of Na, K, and Al are 2 – 4 times higher in coarse-grained, unsorted rocks than in fine-grained, well-sorted samples. Si follows the same pattern but its trend is not as pronounced as those from Na, K, and Al. In contrast, concentrations of Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni, Ti, Zn, and P are 2 – 4 times higher in fine-grained, well sorted samples than in coarse-grained, poorly-sorted rocks. The concentration of Ca does not vary with grain size and sorting.

Variations of elemental composition with texture in sedimentary rocks of Gale crater do not follow trends observed in well-constrained studies of Earth-based physical and chemical weathering of a single source. Two explanations are proposed for Gale crater. The first is that observed variations are controlled by bimodal provenances. In this model, elemental composition – grain size trends are related to two different source regions with distinct chemical composition and little to no influence from chemical weathering. The second interpretation suggests that the observed trends in sedimentary rocks of Gale crater formed by a combination of physical and chemical weathering and elemental mobility at the time these sediments were deposited. In this scenario, reducing of grain size by physical weathering was accompanied by chemical weathering processes and early diagenesis resulting in elemental enrichment or depletion.