Mineralogy of an Active Eolian Sediment from the Namib Dune, Gale Crater, Mars

1C.N.Achilles et al. (>10)*
Journal of Geophysical Research Planets (in Press) Link to Article [DOI: 10.1002/2017JE005262]
1Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
*Find the extensive, full author and affiliation list on the publishers website
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

The Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is using a comprehensive scientific payload to explore rocks and soils in Gale crater, Mars. Recent investigations of the Bagnold Dune Field provided the first in situ assessment of an active dune on Mars. The CheMin X-ray diffraction instrument on Curiosity performed quantitative mineralogical analyses of the <150 μm size fraction of the Namib dune at a location called Gobabeb. Gobabeb is dominated by basaltic minerals. Plagioclase, Fo56 olivine, and two Ca-Mg-Fe pyroxenes account for the majority of crystalline phases along with minor magnetite, quartz, hematite, and anhydrite. In addition to the crystalline phases, a minimum ~42 wt% of the Gobabeb sample is X-ray amorphous. Mineralogical analysis of the Gobabeb dataset provides insights into the origin(s) and geologic history of the dune material and offers an important opportunity for ground truth of orbital observations. CheMin’s analysis of the mineralogy and phase chemistry of modern and ancient Gale crater dune fields, together with other measurements by Curiosity’s science payload, provides new insights into present and past eolian processes on Mars.

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