Characteristics, origins, and biosignature preservation potential of carbonate-bearing rocks within and outside of Jezero crater

1J.D.Tarnas et al. (>10)
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) (In Press) Link to Article []
1NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Publishe by Arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Carbonate minerals have been detected in Jezero crater, an ancient lake basin that is the landing site of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, and within the regional olivine-bearing (ROB) unit in the Nili Fossae region surrounding this crater. It has been suggested that some carbonates in the margin fractured unit, a rock unit within Jezero crater, formed in a fluviolacustrine environment, which would be conducive to preservation of biosignatures from paleolake-inhabiting lifeforms. Here we show that carbonate-bearing rocks within and outside of Jezero crater have the same range of visible-to-near-infrared carbonate absorption strengths, carbonate absorption band positions, thermal inertias, and morphologies. Thicknesses of exposed carbonate-bearing rock cross-sections in Jezero crater are ∼75-90 meters thicker than typical ROB unit cross-sections in the Nili Fossae region, but have similar thicknesses as ROB unit exposures in Libya Montes. These similarities in carbonate properties inside and outside of Jezero crater is consistent with a shared origin for all of the carbonates in the Nili Fossae region. Carbonate absorption minima positions indicate that both Mg- and more Fe-rich carbonates are present in the Nili Fossae region, consistent with the expected products of olivine carbonation. These estimated carbonate chemistries are similar to those in martian meteorites and the Comanche carbonates investigated by the Spirit rover in Columbia Hills. Our results indicate that hydrothermal alteration is the most likely formation mechanism for non-deltaic carbonates within and outside of Jezero crater.


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