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

Edgar, L. A. and Fedo, C. M. and Gupta, S. and Banham, S. G. and Fraeman, A. A. and Grotzinger, J. P. and Stack, K. M. and Stein, N. T. and Bennett, K. A. and Rivera‐Hernández, F. and Sun, V. Z. and Edgett, K. S. and Rubin, D. M. and House, C. H. and Van Beek, J. (2020) A Lacustrine Paleoenvironment Recorded at Vera RubinRidge, Gale Crater: Overview of the Sedimentology and Stratigraphy Observed by the Mars ScienceLaboratory Curiosity Rover. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 125 (3). Art. No. e2019JE006307. ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1029/2019je006307.

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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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Edgar, L. A.0000-0001-7512-7813
Fedo, C. M.0000-0002-2626-1132
Banham, S. G.0000-0003-1206-1639
Fraeman, A. A.0000-0003-4017-5158
Grotzinger, J. P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Stack, K. M.0000-0003-3444-6695
Stein, N. T.0000-0003-3385-9957
Bennett, K. A.0000-0001-8105-7129
Rivera‐Hernández, F.0000-0003-1401-2259
Sun, V. Z.0000-0003-1480-7369
Edgett, K. S.0000-0001-7197-5751
Rubin, D. M.0000-0003-1169-1452
House, C. H.0000-0002-4926-4985
Van Beek, J.0000-0002-6772-4914
Additional Information:© 2020 American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. This article has been contributed to by US Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA. Received 5 DEC 2019; Accepted 24 FEB 2020; Accepted article online 10 MAR 2020. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the NASA MSL mission and the efforts of the MSL engineering and science operations teams. A portion of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A portion of this work was supported by the Simons Collaboration for the the Origin of Life. All of the Mastcam, Navcam, Hazcam, MARDI, and MAHLI images used in this manuscript are freely available through the Planetary Data System Cartography and Imaging Sciences node (https://pds‐ All of the ChemCam RMI images used in this manuscript are freely available through the Planetary Data System Geosciences node (https://pds‐geosciences.wustl. edu/missions/msl/chemcam.htm). Data used to estimate grain size using the Gini index can be accessed via Zenodo: (sols 766–1,804) and (1808‐2298). Data used to estimate laminae thickness can be accessed via Zenodo:
Group:Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:lacustrine; sedimentology; stratigraphy; Mars; Gale crater
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200408-130611400
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Edgar, L. A., Fedo, C. M., Gupta, S., Banham, S. G., Fraeman, A. A., Grotzinger, J. P., et al. (2020). A lacustrine paleoenvironment recorded at Vera Rubin ridge, Gale crater: Overview of the sedimentology and stratigraphy observed by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 125, e2019JE006307.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102402
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Apr 2020 21:02
Last Modified:01 Jun 2023 22:47

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