Protracted Hydrogeological Activity in Arabia Terra, Mars: Evidence from the Structure and Mineralogy of the Layered Deposits of Becquerel Crater

1G. Schmidt,2E. Luzzi,2A.P. Rossi,3M. Pondrelli,1A. Apuzzo,1F. Salvini
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1029/2022JE007320]
1Department of Science, Università degli studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy
2Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen, Germany
3International Research School of Planetary Sciences, Università d’Annunzio, Pescara, Italy
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

The formation of layered mounds on Mars remains a major topic of debate, with the relationship between their deposition and chemical alteration a major aspect still to be constrained. The association these deposits have with hydrated minerals indicates aqueous processes were active in their past, however the extent and duration of this aqueous period has yet to be fully realized. We studied compositional, stratigraphical, and structural characteristics of two separate layered deposits within Becquerel crater, Arabia Terra, to constrain their origins and the intensity of past aqueous activity. We find that due to key differences in composition, layering, and deformation between the two deposits, the timing of important depositional changes within Becquerel can be identified. We propose a scenario involving differences in fluid expulsion intensity and water level between the two layered deposits, in which diverse depositional and post-depositional environments were able to form. Furthermore, internal collapsing and deformation of the main mound might reflect that fluid upwelling persisted below the mound after formation. Determining the relationship between these two deposits is an important step in unraveling the past climate of Arabia Terra, and more broadly Mars. The evidence of protracted fluid expulsion represents a unique opportunity for future missions searching for signs of past life.

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