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Geomorphology of Gale Crater, Rock on!
post Jun 7 2017, 08:40 AM
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Julius, I think that Curiosity will need to get up close and personal with the clay bearing trough before they can assess how and when it was formed. In their brilliant Geological mapping and characterisation of Gale as a potential landing site, Anderson and Bell depicted the clay as a thin bedding plane with a segment exposed by the trough and that characterisation has carried forward. As I understand it the clay signature seems to indicate smectites. The overlying hydrated sulphates would likely have formed in an acidic environment and smectites are pretty good at consuming acidity with the end product being amorphous silica. So if the smectites had been exposed to the acidic waters during sulphate deposition, wouldn't hydrated silica and kaolinite have been detected, unless the clay had been covered by an impervious layer? An alternative is that the clay was formed following deposition of the sulphates as a function of erosion of the sulphate and formation of the fan. Could this clay be a localised deposit formed from pooled water that had leached Mg from the higher sulphate deposits? Both the hematite ridge and the clay trough are going to tell interesting stories.
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