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In Situ Radiometric and Exposure Age Dating of the Martian Surface

Farley, K. A. and Malespin, C. and Mahaffy, P. and Grotzinger, J. P. and Vasconcelos, P. M. and Milliken, R. E. and Malin, M. and Edgett, K. S. and Pavlov, A. A. and Hurowitz, J. A. and Grant, J. A. and Miller, H. B. and Arvidson, R. and Beegle, L. and Calef, F. and Conrad, P. G. and Dietrich, W. E. and Eigenbrode, J. and Gellert, R. and Gupta, S. and Hamilton, V. and Hassler, D. M. and Lewis, K. W. and McLennan, S. M. and Ming, D. and Navarro-González, R. and Schwenzer, S. P. and Steele, A. and Stolper, E. M. and Sumner, D. Y. and Vaniman, D. and Vasavada, A. and Williford, K. and Wimmer-Schweingruber, R. F. (2014) In Situ Radiometric and Exposure Age Dating of the Martian Surface. Science, 343 (6169). Art. no. 1247166. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.1247166.

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We determined radiogenic and cosmogenic noble gases in a mudstone on the floor of Gale crater. A K-Ar age of 4.21 ± 0.35 Ga represents a mixture of detrital and authigenic components, and confirms the expected antiquity of rocks comprising the crater rim. Cosmic-ray-produced ^3He, ^(21)Ne, and ^(36)Ar yield concordant surface exposure ages of 78 ± 30 Ma. Surface exposure occurred mainly in the present geomorphic setting rather than during primary erosion and transport. Our observations are consistent with mudstone deposition shortly after the Gale impact, or possibly in a later event of rapid erosion and deposition. The mudstone remained buried until recent exposure by wind-driven scarp retreat. Sedimentary rocks exposed by this mechanism may thus offer the best potential for organic biomarker preservation against destruction by cosmic radiation.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription PDF Abstract PDF Article material ItemArchived data in NASA Planetary Data System’s Planetary Plasma Interactions Node
Farley, K. A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Malespin, C.0000-0002-5852-5016
Mahaffy, P.0000-0003-1896-1726
Grotzinger, J. P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Milliken, R. E.0000-0003-3240-4918
Malin, M.0000-0001-6913-5577
Edgett, K. S.0000-0001-7197-5751
Pavlov, A. A.0000-0001-8771-1646
Hurowitz, J. A.0000-0002-5857-8652
Grant, J. A.0000-0001-8276-1281
Arvidson, R.0000-0002-2854-0362
Beegle, L.0000-0002-4944-4353
Calef, F.0000-0002-5132-3980
Conrad, P. G.0000-0001-5724-3343
Eigenbrode, J.0000-0003-3089-1986
Gellert, R.0000-0001-7928-834X
Hamilton, V.0000-0001-8675-2083
Hassler, D. M.0000-0001-8830-1200
Lewis, K. W.0000-0003-3412-803X
McLennan, S. M.0000-0003-4259-7178
Ming, D.0000-0003-0567-8876
Schwenzer, S. P.0000-0002-9608-0759
Steele, A.0000-0001-9643-2841
Stolper, E. M.0000-0001-8008-8804
Sumner, D. Y.0000-0002-7343-2061
Vaniman, D.0000-0001-7661-2626
Vasavada, A.0000-0003-2665-286X
Williford, K.0000-0003-0633-408X
Wimmer-Schweingruber, R. F.0000-0002-7388-173X
Alternate Title:Exploring Martian Habitability
Additional Information:Copyright 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received for publication 14 October 2013. Accepted for publication 25 November 2013. Published Online December 9 2013. The authors are indebted to the Mars Science Laboratory Project engineering and management teams for their exceptionally skilled and diligent efforts in making the mission as effective as possible and enhancing science operations. We are also grateful to all those MSL team members who participated in tactical and strategic operations. Without the support of both the engineering and science teams, the data presented here could not have been collected. Three anonymous reviewers provided many helpful suggestions. Some 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. Data presented in this paper are archived in the Planetary Data System (
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Yellowknife Bay ; Gale Crater ; Mars ; Mars Science Laboratory ; Curiosity
Non-Subject Keywords:Mars Science Laboratory ; Curiosity ; NASA
Issue or Number:6169
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131122-123336829
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:In Situ Radiometric and Exposure Age Dating of the Martian Surface K. A. Farley, C. Malespin, P. Mahaffy, J. P. Grotzinger, P. M. Vasconcelos, R. E. Milliken, M. Malin, K. S. Edgett, A. A. Pavlov, J. A. Hurowitz, J. A. Grant, H. B. Miller, R. Arvidson, L. Beegle, F. Calef, P. G. Conrad, W. E. Dietrich, J. Eigenbrode, R. Gellert, S. Gupta, V. Hamilton, D. M. Hassler, K.W. Lewis, S. M. McLennan, D. Ming, R. Navarro-González, S. P. Schwenzer, A. Steele, E. M. Stolper, D. Y. Sumner, D. Vaniman, A. Vasavada, K. Williford, R. F. Wimmer-Schweingruber, and the MSL Science Team Science 24 January 2014: 343 (6169), 1247166Published online 9 December 2013 [DOI:10.1126/science.1247166]
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:42658
Deposited By: Katherine Johnson
Deposited On:09 Dec 2013 22:54
Last Modified:30 Nov 2022 00:46

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