Petrogypsic paleosols on Mars

1Gregory J.Retallack,1Shane Jepson,1Adrian Broz
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2023.115436]
1Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oregon Eugene, Oregon 97403-1272, United States
Copyright Elsevier

Unlike the water planet Earth, or furnace planet Venus, Mars is a frigid soil planet, most like the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, which also has paleosols revealing a different past. This study examined rocks in early Amazonian (3000 Ma) sequences of western Candor Chasma, cemented by sulfates and iron oxides. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data were used to quantify elevations, and the gypsic bands proved to follow ancient dune surfaces, like petrogypsic horizons of soils. Hesperian-early Amazonian (3700-3000 Ma) gypsic paleosols are widespread on Mars, which also has Noachian (3800-4000 Ma) deeply weathered, kaolinitic paleosols. The Archean (3700-3000 Ma) Earth was similar with both gypsic and deeply weathered profiles. Archean fossil microbes and soils on Earth include acid sulfate and deeply weathered soils, but both life and soil diversified afterward on Earth. There is not yet a fossil record on Mars, but the red planet does have acid sulfate and deeply weathered paleosols of geological ages equivalent to Archean on Earth. Unlike Earth however, there is little evidence of later significant soil formation on Mars.

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