Saturday, April 30, 2016

Evidence of Water Discharges From Nili Fossae and Syrtis Major on Mars

Extensive aqueous deposits at the base of the dichotomy boundary in Nilosyrtis Mensae, Mars


Bandfield et al


Thermal emission imaging system (THEMIS) and Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) spectral datasets were used to identify high bulk SiO2 and hydrated compositions throughout the Nilosyrtis Mensae region. Four isolated locations were identified across the region showing short wavelength silicate absorptions within the 8–12 μm spectral region, indicating surfaces dominated by high Si phases. Much more extensive exposures of hydrated compositions are present throughout the region, indicated by a spectral absorption near 1.9 μm in CRISM data. Although limited in spatial coverage, detailed spectral observations indicate that the hydrated materials contain Fe/Mg-smectites and hydrated silica along with minor exposures of Mg-carbonates and an unidentified hydrated phase. The high SiO2 and hydrated materials are present in layered sediments near the base of topographic scarps at the hemispheric dichotomy boundary, typically near or within low albedo sand deposits. The source of the high SiO2 and hydrated materials appears to be from groundwater discharge from Nili Fossae and Syrtis Major to the south, where there is evidence for extensive aqueous alteration of the subsurface. Although discontinuous, the exposures of high SiO2 and hydrated materials span a wide area and are present in a similar geomorphological context to previously identified deposits in western Hellas Basin. These regional deposits may reflect aqueous conditions and alteration within the adjacent crust of the martian highlands.

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