Santorini volcano as a potential Martian analogue: The Balos Cove Basalts

1A.Pantazidi,1I.Baziotis,2,3A.Solomonidou,4E.Manoutsoglou,5D.Palles,5 E.Kamitsos,6A.Karageorgis,7G.Profitiliotis,1M.Kondoyanni,8S.Klemme,8J.Berndt,9D.Ming,10P.Asimow
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2019.02.026]
1Agricultural University of Athens, Mineral Resources and Agricultural Engineering, Iera Odos str. 75, 11855 Athens, Greece
2European Space Agency (ESA), European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), Madrid, Spain
3LESIA-Observatoire de Paris, Paris Sciences and Letters Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Université Paris-Diderot, Meudon, France
4Technical University of Crete, Greece
5National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, Greece
6Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Institute of Oceanography, Athens, Greece
7National Technical University of Athens, Greece
8Westfälische Wilhelms-Univ. Münster, Institut für Mineralogie, Correnstrasse 24, Münster, Germany
9NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058, USA
10California Institute of Technology, Geological and Planetary Sciences, Pasadena, CA, USA
Copyright Elsevier

The interpretation of geologic processes on Mars from sparse meteorite, remote sensing and rover data is influenced by knowledge gained from well-characterized terrestrial analogues. This calls for detailed study of candidate terrestrial analogues and comparison of their observable features to those encountered on the surface of Mars. We evaluated the mineralogical, geochemical, and physical properties of the Balos cove basalts (BCB) from the island of Santorini and compared them to Martian meteorites, Mars rover surface measurements, and other verified Martian analogues obtained from the International Space Analogue Rockstore (ISAR). Twenty rock samples were collected from the Balos cove area based on their freshness, integrity, and basaltic appearance in the field. Optical microscopy of BCB revealed a pilotaxitic to trachytic texture, with olivine and clinopyroxene phenocrysts in a fine groundmass of olivine, clinopyroxene, plagioclase, magnetite, and devitrified glass. All major minerals show normal zoning, including calcic plagioclase (An78–85 at the core and An60–76 at the rim), augite (En36-48Wo41-44Fs11–21), and olivine (Fo74–88). The dominant bands in the infrared-attenuated total reflectance (IR-ATR) spectra from BCB can be assigned to olivine (~875 cm−1), calcic plagioclase (~1130 cm−1), and augite (~970 cm−1). The whole-rock chemical compositions and mineralogy of the BCB are similar to published analyses of typical olivine-phyric shergottites and basalts and basaltic materials analyzed in Gusev and Gale craters on Mars. BCB porosity is in the range of 7–15% and is similar to the porosities of the ISAR samples. Although no terrestrial rock is ever a perfect match to Martian compositions, the differences in mineralogy and geochemistry between BCB and some classes of Martian samples are relatively subtle and the basalts of Santorini are as close a match as other accepted Mars basalt analogues. The Santorini site offers excellent field logistics that, together with the petrology of the outcrop, makes it a valuable locality for testing and calibration deployments, field training, and other activities related to current and future Mars exploration.

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