A Lacustrine Paleoenvironment Recorded at Vera RubinRidge, Gale Crater: Overview of the Sedimentology and Stratigraphy Observed by the Mars ScienceLaboratory Curiosity Rover

L. A. Edgar, C. M. Fedo, S. Gupta, S. G. Banham, A. A. Fraeman, J. P. Grotzinger, K. M. Stack, N. T. Stein, K. A. Bennett, F. Rivera-Hernández, V. Z. Sun, K. S. Edgett, D. M. Rubin, C. House, J. Van Beek

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12 Scopus citations

Abstract

For ~500 Martian solar days (sols), the Mars Science Laboratory team explored Vera Rubin ridge (VRR), a topographic feature on the northwest slope of Aeolis Mons. Here we review the sedimentary facies and stratigraphy observed during sols 1,800–2,300, covering more than 100 m of stratigraphic thickness. Curiosity's traverse includes two transects across the ridge, which enables investigation of lateral variability over a distance of ~300 m. Three informally named stratigraphic members of the Murray formation are described: Blunts Point, Pettegrove Point, and Jura, with the latter two exposed on VRR. The Blunts Point member, exposed just below the ridge, is characterized by a recessive, fine-grained facies that exhibits extensive planar lamination and is crosscut by abundant curvi-planar veins. The Pettegrove Point member is more resistant, fine-grained, thinly planar laminated, and contains a higher abundance of diagenetic concretions. Conformable above the Pettegrove Point member is the Jura member, which is also fine-grained and parallel stratified, but is marked by a distinct step in topography, which coincides with localized meter-scale inclined strata, a thinly and thickly laminated facies, and occasional crystal molds. All members record low-energy lacustrine deposition, consistent with prior observations of the Murray formation. Uncommon outcrops of low-angle stratification suggest possible subaqueous currents, and steeply inclined beds may be the result of slumping. Collectively, the rocks exposed at VRR provide additional evidence for a long-lived lacustrine environment (in excess of 106 years via comparison to terrestrial records of sedimentation), which extends our understanding of the duration of habitable conditions in Gale crater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019JE006307
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Volume125
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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