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American Mineralogist

Journal of Earth and Planetary Materials

Ed. by Baker, Don / Xu, Hongwu / Swainson, Ian


IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 2.631

CiteScore 2018: 2.55

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.355
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.103

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1945-3027
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Volume 100, Issue 4

Issues

The origin and implications of clay minerals from Yellowknife Bay, Gale crater, Mars

Thomas F. Bristow / David L. Bish
  • Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University, 1001 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, Indiana, 47405, U.S.A.
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/ David T. Vaniman / Richard V. Morris / David F. Blake / John P. Grotzinger
  • Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, California 91125, U.S.A.
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/ Elizabeth B. Rampe / Joy A. Crisp
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California 91109, U.S.A.
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/ Cherie N. Achilles
  • Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University, 1001 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, Indiana, 47405, U.S.A
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/ Doug W. Ming / Bethany L. Ehlmann
  • Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, California 91125, U.S.A.
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California 91109, U.S.A.
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/ Penelope L. King
  • Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia
  • Department of Physics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada
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/ John C. Bridges
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • Space Research Center, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7 RH, U.K.
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/ Jennifer L. Eigenbrode
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, U.S.A.
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/ Dawn Y. Sumner
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Davis, California 95616, U.S.A.
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/ Steve J. Chipera
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • Chesapeake Energy Corporation, 6100 N. Western Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73118, U.S.A. 13Lunar
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/ John Michael Moorokian
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California 91109, U.S.A.
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/ Allan H. Treiman
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • Lunar and Planetary Institute, 3600 Bay Area Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77058, U.S.A.
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/ Shaunna M. Morrison
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • Department of Geology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, U.S.A.
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/ Robert T. Downs
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • Department of Geology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, U.S.A.
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/ Jack D. Farmer
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • Department of Geological Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85281, U.S.A.
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/ David Des Marais / Philippe Sarrazin
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • SETI Institute, Mountain View, California, 94043, U.S.A.
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/ Melissa M. Floyd
  • Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, U.S.A.
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, U.S.A.
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/ Michael A. Mischna
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California 91109, U.S.A.
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/ Amy C. McAdam
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Published Online: 2015-04-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2015-5077CCBYNCND

Abstract

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity has documented a section of fluvio-lacustrine strata at Yellowknife Bay (YKB), an embayment on the floor of Gale crater, approximately 500 m east of the Bradbury landing site. X‑ray diffraction (XRD) data and evolved gas analysis (EGA) data from the CheMin and SAM instruments show that two powdered mudstone samples (named John Klein and Cumberland) drilled from the Sheepbed member of this succession contain up to ~20 wt% clay minerals. A trioctahedral smectite, likely a ferrian saponite, is the only clay mineral phase detected in these samples. Smectites of the two samples exhibit different 001 spacing under the low partial pressures of H2O inside the CheMin instrument (relative humidity <1%). Smectite interlayers in John Klein collapsed sometime between clay mineral formation and the time of analysis to a basal spacing of 10 Å, but largely remain open in the Cumberland sample with a basal spacing of ~13.2 Å. Partial intercalation of Cumberland smectites by metal-hydroxyl groups, a common process in certain pedogenic and lacustrine settings on Earth, is our favored explanation for these differences.

The relatively low abundances of olivine and enriched levels of magnetite in the Sheepbed mudstone, when compared with regional basalt compositions derived from orbital data, suggest that clay minerals formed with magnetite in situ via aqueous alteration of olivine. Mass-balance calculations are permissive of such a reaction. Moreover, the Sheepbed mudstone mineral assemblage is consistent with minimal inputs of detrital clay minerals from the crater walls and rim. Early diagenetic fabrics suggest clay mineral formation prior to lithification. Thermodynamic modeling indicates that the production of authigenic magnetite and saponite at surficial temperatures requires a moderate supply of oxidants, allowing circum-neutral pH. The kinetics of olivine alteration suggest the presence of fluids for thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. Mineralogical evidence of the persistence of benign aqueous conditions at YKB for extended periods indicates a potentially habitable environment where life could establish itself. Mediated oxidation of Fe2+ in olivine to Fe3+ in magnetite, and perhaps in smectites provided a potential energy source for organisms.

Keywords : Mars; Yellowknife Bay; clay minerals; CheMin; XRD; habitability

About the article

Received: 2014-06-04

Accepted: 2014-09-20

Published Online: 2015-04-03

Published in Print: 2015-04-01


Citation Information: American Mineralogist, Volume 100, Issue 4, Pages 824–836, ISSN (Online) 1945-3027, ISSN (Print) 0003-004X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2015-5077CCBYNCND.

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© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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