New high-resolution spectral and morphologic imaging of deposits on walls and floor of Ius Chasma extend previous geomorphic mapping, and permit a new interpretation of aqueous processes that occurred during the development of Valles Marineris. We identify hydrated mineralogy based on visible-near infrared (VNIR) absorptions. We map the extents of these units with CRISM spectral data as well as morphologies in CTX and HiRISE imagery. Three cross-sections across Ius Chasma illustrate the interpreted mineral stratigraphy. Multiple episodes formed and transported hydrated minerals within Ius Chasma. Polyhydrated sulfate and kieserite are found within a closed basin at the lowest elevations in the chasma. They may have been precipitates in a closed basin or diagenetically altered after deposition. Fluvial or aeolian processes then deposited layered Fe/Mg smectite and hydrated silicate on the chasma floor, postdating the sulfates. The smectite apparently was weathered out of Noachian-age wallrock and transported to the depositional sites. The overlying hydrated silicate is interpreted to be an acid-leached phyllosilicate transformed from the underlying smectite unit, or a smectite/jarosite mixture. The finely layered smectite and massive hydrated silicate units have an erosional unconformity between them, that marks a change in surface water chemistry. Landslides transported large blocks of wallrock, some altered to contain Fe/Mg smectite, to the chasma floor. After the last episode of normal faulting and subsequent landslides, opal was transported short distances into the chasma from a few m-thick light-toned layer near the top of the wallrock, by sapping channels in Louros Valles. Alternatively, the material was transported into the chasma and then altered to opal. The superposition of different types of hydrated minerals and the different fluvial morphologies of the units containing them indicate sequential, distinct aqueous environments, characterized by alkaline, then circum-neutral, and finally very acidic surface or groundwater chemistry. ?? 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Hydrated mineral stratigraphy of Ius Chasma, Valles Marineris