A Caltech Library Service

The mineral diversity of Jezero crater: Evidence for possible lacustrine carbonates on Mars

Horgan, Briony H. N. and Anderson, Ryan B. and Dromart, Gilles and Amador, Elena S. and Rice, Melissa S. (2020) The mineral diversity of Jezero crater: Evidence for possible lacustrine carbonates on Mars. Icarus, 339 . Art. No. 113526. ISSN 0019-1035.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

[img] PDF (Supplementary data) - Supplemental Material
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Noachian-aged Jezero crater is the only known location on Mars where clear orbital detections of carbonates are found in close proximity to clear fluvio-lacustrine features indicating the past presence of a paleolake; however, it is unclear whether or not the carbonates in Jezero are related to the lacustrine activity. This distinction is critical for evaluating the astrobiological potential of the site, as lacustrine carbonates on Earth are capable of preserving biosignatures at scales that may be detectable by a landed mission like the Mars 2020 rover, which is planned to land in Jezero in February 2021. In this study, we conduct a detailed investigation of the mineralogical and morphological properties of geological units within Jezero crater in order to better constrain the origin of carbonates in the basin and their timing relative to fluvio-lacustrine activity. Using orbital visible/near-infrared hyperspectral images from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) along with high resolution imagery and digital elevation models, we identify a distinct carbonate-bearing unit, the “Marginal Carbonates,” located along the inner margin of the crater, near the largest inlet valley and the western delta. Based on their strong carbonate signatures, topographic properties, and location in the crater, we propose that this unit may preserve authigenic lacustrine carbonates, precipitated in the near-shore environment of the Jezero paleolake. Comparison to carbonate deposits from terrestrial closed basin lakes suggests that if the Marginal Carbonates are lacustrine in origin, they could preserve macro- and microscopic biosignatures in microbialite rocks like stromatolites, some of which would likely be detectable by Mars 2020. The Marginal Carbonates may represent just one phase of a complex fluvio-lacustrine history in Jezero crater, as we find that the spectral diversity of the fluvio-lacustrine deposits in the crater is consistent with a long-lived lake system cataloging the deposition and erosion of regional geologic units. Thus, Jezero crater may contain a unique record of the evolution of surface environments, climates, and habitability on early Mars.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemData
Horgan, Briony H. N.0000-0001-6314-9724
Anderson, Ryan B.0000-0003-4465-2871
Rice, Melissa S.0000-0002-8370-4139
Additional Information:© 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license. Received 17 September 2018, Revised 29 October 2019, Accepted 30 October 2019, Available online 11 November 2019. We would like to thank Ken Williford and Katie Stack for inspiring and initiating this project, Tim Goudge and Vivian Sun for excellent reviews that significantly improved the clarity of this manuscript, Robin Fergason and Michael Diggles for internal USGS reviews, the Mars 2020 science team and Steve Ruff for helpful feedback on our analysis and the manuscript, Tim Goudge for providing the geologic map, and Jay Dickson for providing CTX and HiRISE mosaics. This study was funded in part by the Mars2020 project, via the Mastcam-Z and SuperCam instrument teams. Data availability: All figures were derived from CRISM, HiRISE, CTX, and HRSC products available on the NASA Planetary Data System ( Laboratory mineral and rock spectra are available from the USGS Spectral Library ( and the PDS Geosciences Spectral Library ( All CRISM spectral data shown in plots is available in the supplementary data file, which is also available at the linked Mendeley Data repository. High resolution versions of all CRISM RGB maps are also available at the linked Mendeley Data repository.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20191112-094157266
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Briony H.N. Horgan, Ryan B. Anderson, Gilles Dromart, Elena S. Amador, Melissa S. Rice, The mineral diversity of Jezero crater: Evidence for possible lacustrine carbonates on Mars, Icarus, Volume 339, 2020, 113526, ISSN 0019-1035, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:99799
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Nov 2019 17:47
Last Modified:02 Jan 2020 23:50

Repository Staff Only: item control page