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Weathering of Mars: Antarctic analog studies

Authors
Journal
Icarus
0019-1035
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
45
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/0019-1035(81)90016-6
Disciplines
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Geography

Abstract

Abstract Terrestrial analog studies of potential Martian weathering processes are reported. Four major weathering environments are identified: (i) hydrothermal alteration of impact melt sheets and impact breccias, (ii) solid-gas and related reactions, (iii) subpermafrost intrusion of lavas involving liquid water, and (iv) subaerial extrusion of lavas in the absence of liquid water. Weathering in environments (i)−(iii) has been discussed by other authors; this report discusses weathering in environment (iv), an analog of which is Antarctica. We conclude that weathering is geologically slow in the absence of liquid water, and that zeolites predominate over clays as secondary minerals. On volumetric grounds it appears that hydrothermal alteration of impact melt sheets should be the most important time-averaged weathering mechanism, provided that H 2O was present as liquid or permafrost. Such hydrothermal alteration should operate predominately on ancient crustal material. Gas-solid reactions and photochemical weathering should also operate primarily on ancient crustal material on a time-averaged basis. Weathering products of younger subpermafrost or subaerially erupted basalts should be subordinate to hydrothermal alteration and gas-solid reactions. It appears that the present Martian regolith as analyzed by the Viking landers contains a major contribution from ancient crust as typified today by the southern cratered highlands, with a lesser contribution from the younger, hemispherically restricted basaltic lavas.

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