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Published March 25, 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Geologic setting of serpentine deposits on Mars


Serpentine, recently discovered on Mars using Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data, is uncommon but found in three geologic settings: (1) in mélange terrains at the Claritas Rise and the Nili Fossae, (2) associated with a few southern highlands impact craters, and (3) associated with a regional olivine-rich stratigraphic unit near the Isidis basin. Any presently active serpentinization processes would be occurring beneath the surface and mineral products would not be apparent with surface and orbital data; however, finding serpentine in several Noachian terrains indicates active serpentinization processes in Mars' past. Important implications are the past production of magnetite, which may contribute to chemical remnant magnetization of Mars' crust, and production of H_2, which is a suitable energy source for chemosynthetic microbial life.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Geophysical Union. Received 18 January 2010; accepted 25 February 2010; published 25 March 2010. Thanks to D. Cardace, W. Calvin, G. Swayze, S. Wiseman, M. Wolff and two anonymous reviewers for suggestions that improved this manuscript and to the MRO science operations teams for their efforts in collecting a spectacular dataset.

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