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Geochemistry of the Bagnold dune field as observed by ChemCam and comparison with other aeolian deposits at Gale crater

Agnes, Cousin and Dehouck, Erwin and Meslin, Pierre-Yves and Forni, Olivier and Williams, Amy J. and Stein, Nathan and Gasnault, Olivier and Bridges, Nathan and Ehlmann, Bethany and Schröder, Susanne and Payré, Valérie and Rapin, William and Pinet, Patrick and Sautter, Violaine and Lanza, Nina and Lasue, Jérémie and Maurice, Sylvestre and Wiens, Roger C. (2017) Geochemistry of the Bagnold dune field as observed by ChemCam and comparison with other aeolian deposits at Gale crater. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 122 (10). pp. 2144-2162. ISSN 2169-9097. doi:10.1002/2017JE005261.

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The Curiosity rover conducted the first field investigation of an active extraterrestrial dune. This study of the Bagnold dunes focuses on the ChemCam chemical results and also presents findings on the grain size distributions based on the ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager and Mars Hand Lens Imager images. These active dunes are composed of grains that are mostly <250 μm. Their composition is overall similar to that of the aeolian deposits analyzed all along the traverse (“Aeolis Palus soils”). Nevertheless, the dunes contain less volatiles (Cl, H, and S) than the Aeolis Palus soils, which appear to be due to a lower content of volatile-rich fine-grained particles (<100 μm) or a lower content of volatile-rich amorphous component, possibly as a result of (1) a lower level of chemical alteration, (2) the removal of an alteration rind at the surface of the grains during transport, (3) a lower degree of interaction with volcanic gases/aerosols, or (4) physical sorting that removed the smallest and most altered grains. Analyses of the >150 μm grain-size dump piles have shown that coarser grains (150–250 μm) are enriched in the mafic elements Fe and Mn, suggesting a larger content in olivine compared to smaller grains (<150 μm) of the Bagnold dunes. Moreover, the chemistry of soils analyzed in the vicinity of the dunes indicates that they are similar to the dune material. All these observations suggest that the olivine content determined by X-ray diffraction of the <150 μm grain-size sample should be considered as a lower limit for the Bagnold dunes.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Dehouck, Erwin0000-0002-1368-4494
Meslin, Pierre-Yves0000-0002-0703-3951
Forni, Olivier0000-0001-6772-9689
Williams, Amy J.0000-0001-6299-0845
Stein, Nathan0000-0003-3385-9957
Gasnault, Olivier0000-0002-6979-9012
Bridges, Nathan0000-0002-6790-6793
Ehlmann, Bethany0000-0002-2745-3240
Schröder, Susanne0000-0003-1870-3663
Payré, Valérie0000-0002-7052-0795
Rapin, William0000-0003-4660-8006
Pinet, Patrick0000-0002-1933-5631
Sautter, Violaine0000-0002-4263-7558
Lanza, Nina0000-0003-4445-7996
Lasue, Jérémie0000-0001-9082-4457
Wiens, Roger C.0000-0002-3409-7344
Additional Information:© 2017 American Geophysical Union. Received 9 JAN 2017; Accepted 20 JUN 2017; Accepted article online 27 JUN 2017; Published online 23 OCT 2017. We are grateful to the MSL science and operation teams who developed the rover and contributed to collecting the Bagnold dune data set. All the data sets used in this paper are released and can be found on the Planetary Data Science ( We also thank S. Karunatillake and S. Ruff for their helpful and constructive comments, which improved the manuscript. We would also like to express our sincere gratefulness to Nathan Bridges for his enthusiasm and huge implication for the Bagnold Dunes Campaign. This work was supported by the CNES in France and by the NASA Mars Exploration Program in the U.S.
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Mars; Curiosity; Bagnold Dunes; ChemCam; Gale Crater
Issue or Number:10
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170628-071547086
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Cousin, A., et al. (2017), Geochemistry of the Bagnold dune field as observed by ChemCam and comparison with other aeolian deposits at Gale Crater, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 122, 2144–2162, doi:10.1002/2017JE005261
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:78629
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Jun 2017 20:57
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:41

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