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Geologic Overview of the Mars Science Laboratory Rover Mission at The Kimberley, Gale Crater, Mars

Rice, Melissa S. and Gupta, Sanjeev and Treiman, Allan H. and Stack, Kathryn M. and Calef, Fred and Edgar, Lauren A. and Grotzinger, John and Lanza, Nina and Le Deit, Laetitia and Lasue, Jeremie and Siebach, Kirsten L. and Vasavada, Ashwin and Wiens, Roger C. and Williams, Joshua (2017) Geologic Overview of the Mars Science Laboratory Rover Mission at The Kimberley, Gale Crater, Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 122 (1). pp. 2-20. ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1002/2016JE005200.

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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 K_2O 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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Rice, Melissa S.0000-0002-8370-4139
Treiman, Allan H.0000-0002-8073-2839
Stack, Kathryn M.0000-0003-3444-6695
Edgar, Lauren A.0000-0001-7512-7813
Grotzinger, John0000-0001-9324-1257
Lanza, Nina0000-0003-4445-7996
Le Deit, Laetitia0000-0003-1361-5170
Lasue, Jeremie0000-0001-9082-4457
Siebach, Kirsten L.0000-0002-6628-6297
Vasavada, Ashwin0000-0003-2665-286X
Wiens, Roger C.0000-0002-3409-7344
Additional Information:© 2016 American Geophysical Union. Accepted manuscript online: 22 December 2016; Manuscript Accepted: 30 November 2016; Manuscript Revised: 28 November 2016; Manuscript Received: 13 October 2016. We acknowledge the exceptional skills and diligent efforts made by the MSL project’s science, engineering and management teams in making this work possible. We are also grateful to the many MSL team members who participated in tactical and strategic operations during the Kimberley campaign. We thank Ryan Anderson and two anonymous reviewers, whose comments have improved the manuscript. Rice was supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Postdoctoral Program and the MSL Participating Scientist Program. Gupta was supported by grants from the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA). Le Deit and Lasue acknowledge the support of the French Space Agency (CNES). Data presented in this paper are archived in the Planetary Data System (
Funding AgencyGrant Number
United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA)UNSPECIFIED
Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Mars Science Laboratory; Gale crater; Sediment provenance; Diagenesis; Fluvio-deltaic processes; Landscape evolution
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170111-072536180
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Official Citation:Rice, M. S., et al. (2017), Geologic overview of the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission at the Kimberley, Gale crater, Mars, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 122, 2–20, doi:10.1002/2016JE005200
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:73405
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Jan 2017 18:33
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 05:16

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