Geologic overview of the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission at the Kimberley, Gale crater, Mars

Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover completed a detailed investigation at the Kimberley waypoint within Gale crater from sols 571-634 using its full science instrument payload. From orbital images examined early in the Curiosity mission, the Kimberley region had been identified as a high-priority science target based on its clear stratigraphic relationships in a layered sedimentary sequence that had been exposed by differential erosion. Observations of the stratigraphic sequence at the Kimberley made by Curiosity are consistent with deposition in a prograding, fluvio-deltaic system during the late Noachian to early Hesperian, prior to the existence of most of Mt. Sharp. Geochemical and mineralogic analyses suggest that sediment deposition likely took place under cold conditions with relatively low water-to-rock ratios. Based on elevated K2O abundances throughout the Kimberley formation, an alkali feldspar protolith is likely one of several igneous sources from which the sediments were derived. After deposition, the rocks underwent multiple episodes of diagenetic alteration with different aqueous chemistries and redox conditions, as evidenced by the presence of Ca-sulfate veins, Mn-oxide fracture-fills, and erosion-resistant nodules. More recently, the Kimberley has been subject to significant aeolian abrasion and removal of sediments to create modern topography that slopes away from Mt. Sharp, a process that has continued to the present day.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geologic overview of the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission at the Kimberley, Gale crater, Mars
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
DOI 10.1002/2016JE005200
Volume 122
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 19 p.
First page 2
Last page 20
Other Geospatial Mars, Gale crater