Late-Stage Diagenetic Concretions in the Murray Formation, Gale Crater, Mars

1Vivian Z. Sun et al. (>10)
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2018.12.030]
1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109
Copyright Elsevier

Concretions are prevalent features in the generally lacustrine deposits of the Murray formation in Gale crater. In this work, we document the morphologic, textural, and chemical properties of these concretions throughout 300 meters of Murray formation stratigraphy from Mars Science Laboratory observations between Sols 750-1900. We interpret these observations to constrain the timing and composition of post-depositional fluid events at Gale crater. We determine that the overall diversity of concretion morphology, size, texture, and chemistry throughout the Murray formation indicates that concretions formed in multiple, likely late diagenetic, episodes with varying fluid chemistries. Four major concretion assemblages are observed at distinct stratigraphic intervals and approximately correlate with major distinct chemical enrichments in Mg-S-Ni-Cl, Mn-P, and Ca-S, among other local enrichments. Different concretion size populations and complex relationships between concretions and veins also suggest multiple precipitation events at Gale crater. Many concretions likely formed during late diagenesis after sediment compaction and lithification, based on observations of concretions preserving primary host rock laminations without differential compaction. An upsection decrease in overall concretion size corresponds to an inferred upsection decrease in porosity and permeability, thus constraining concretion formation as postdating fluid events that produced initial cementation and porosity loss. The combined observations of late diagenetic concretions and distinct chemical enrichments related to concretions allow constraints to be placed on the chemistry of late stage fluids at Gale crater. Collectively, concretion observations from this work and previous studies of other diagenetic features (veins, alteration halos) suggest at least six post-depositional events that occurred at Gale crater after the deposition of the Murray formation.

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