Thermal Emission Spectra of Silica-coated Basalt and Considerations for Martian Surface MineralogyAmong the most important discoveries made during the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission was that the rocky materials of Mars are broadly divisible into two distinct rock types. The geological significance of this finding is dependent on the mineralogy of these rock types as well as their geographic and stratigraphic positions. Much work has yet to be done to understand these relationships and the small-scale variability of these units. For now, it is worth considering various scenarios that could have resulted in Mars global-scale mineralogical dichotomy. Such work will make clearer what must be looked for in Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (THEMIS) data, what to test with other data sets, and what geological processes can be considered or ruled out as we advance with interpreting Martian geologic history. Here, we suggest that exogenic coatings of secondary silica on basaltic rocks may provide a plausible explanation for the newly discovered distribution of rock types.
Kraft, M. D. (Arizona State Univ. Tempe, AZ, United States)
Sharp, T. G. (Arizona State Univ. Tempe, AZ, United States)
Michalski, J. R. (Arizona State Univ. Tempe, AZ, United States)