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Published February 21, 2014 | public
Journal Article

Mineralogy of the Martian Surface


The past fifteen years of orbital infrared spectroscopy and in situ exploration have led to a new understanding of the composition and history of Mars. Globally, Mars has a basaltic upper crust with regionally variable quantities of plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine associated with distinctive terrains. Enrichments in olivine (>20%) are found around the largest basins and within late Noachian–early Hesperian lavas. Alkali volcanics are also locally present, pointing to regional differences in igneous processes. Many materials from ancient Mars bear the mineralogic fingerprints of interaction with water. Clay minerals, found in exposures of Noachian crust across the globe, preserve widespread evidence for early weathering, hydrothermal, and diagenetic aqueous environments. Noachian and Hesperian sediments include paleolake deposits with clays, carbonates, sulfates, and chlorides that are more localized in extent. The late Hesperian to Amazonian mineralogic record of water is sparser, though sulfates and silica in some locations indicate local availability of ground and surface waters even in the most recent geologic epoch.

Additional Information

© 2014 by Annual Reviews. Review in Advance first posted online on February 21, 2014. The authors thank numerous individuals. Phil Christensen, Woody Fischer, Andy Knoll, Dick Morris, Scott Murchie, Deanne Rogers, and James Wray provided early reviews that improved this manuscript, as did formal review comments provided by an anonymous reviewer. Steve Ruff provided the Mini-TES data and Anouck Ody provided the global OMEGA olivine distribution data used in this manuscript. John Carter provided his hydrated mineral detections.

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