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Curiosity rover explores stratigraphy of Gale crater

New study published in Geology

Curiosity rover explores stratigraphy of Gale crater
2021-04-08
(Press-News.org) Boulder, Colo., USA: Gale Crater's central sedimentary mound (Aeolis Mons or, informally, Mount Sharp) is a 5.5-km-tall remnant of the infilling and erosion of this ancient impact crater. Given its thickness and age, Mount Sharp preserves one of the best records of early Martian climatic, hydrological, and sedimentary history.

In this paper, published today in Geology, William Rapin and colleagues present the first description of key facies in the sulfate-bearing unit, recently observed in the distance by the rover, and propose a model for changes in depositional environments.

The basal part of this sedimentary sequence is ahead of the Curiosity rover traverse and was recently analyzed with unprecedented resolution by the rover cameras. The telescopic imager of the ChemCam instrument was used here in particular, and its images show sedimentary structures that reveal evolution of environments on Mars during the Hesperian age (3.7-2.9 billion years ago).

Analysis of the structures shows that on top of the ancient lake deposits currently explored by the rover (Murray formation), vast aeolian deposits were formed by a dune field during a prolonged dry climatic episode. Yet, higher up, the stratigraphy reveals the resumption of wetter climatic conditions.

The climate of Mars appears therefore to have fluctuated several times at high order between dry conditions and wet conditions in the Hesperian age, a period during which Mars' environment is thought to have changed globally due to the gradual loss of its atmosphere to space.

INFORMATION:

FEATURED ARTICLE Alternating wet and dry depositional environments recorded in the stratigraphy of Mount Sharp at Gale crater, Mars
William Rapin et al., william.rapin@irap.omp.eu, Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, Toulouse, France
URL: https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article/doi/10.1130/G48519.1/596028/Alternating-wet-and-dry-depositional-environments

GEOLOGY articles are online at https://geology.geoscienceworld.org/content/early/recent. Representatives of the media may obtain complimentary articles by contacting Kea Giles at the e-mail address above. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please make reference to GEOLOGY in articles published. Non-media requests for articles may be directed to GSA Sales and Service, gsaservice@geosociety.org.
https://www.geosociety.org


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Curiosity rover explores stratigraphy of Gale crater

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[Press-News.org] Curiosity rover explores stratigraphy of Gale crater
New study published in Geology