Mineralogic Evidence for Subglacial Volcanism in the Sisyphi Montes Region of Mars

1S. Ackiss, 1B. Horgan, 2F. Seelos, 3W. Farrand, 4J. Wray
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2018.03.026]
1Purdue University, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
2Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, Maryland 20723
3Space Science Institute, 4750 Walnut St #205, Boulder, Colorado 80301
4Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, 311 Ferst, Drive Atlanta, Georgia 30332
Copyright Elsevier

Here we examine the mineral assemblages detected on possible glaciovolcanic edifices in the Sisyphi Planum region of Mars, a high-latitude region in the southern highlands nestled between the Argyre and Hellas impact basins. Minerals were identified utilizing visible/near-infrared spectra from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM). Analysis of eleven CRISM images located on the volcanic edifices revealed three distinct spectral classes in the region which are interpreted to be: gypsum-dominated, smectite-zeolite- iron oxide-dominated (possibly palagonite), and polyhydrated sulfate-dominated material. While sulfates can form under a variety of alteration conditions, palagonite-like mineral assemblages require low-temperature and high water-to-rock hydrothermal conditions typically found in subglacial or subaqueous volcanic eruptions. The possible palagonite detections on the volcanic edifices, the geomorphology of the region, and the analogous terrestrial mineralogy of subglacial eruptions strongly suggests the formation of these minerals during subglacial eruptions or associated hydrothermal systems. This implies that thick water ice sheets were present in this region in the late Noachian or early Hesperian, and that the subglacial hydrothermal systems could have supported habitable environments with excellent biosignature preservation potential.

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