Inorganic Analyses of Martian Surface Samples at the Viking Landing Sites

Science  17 Dec 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4271, pp. 1283-1288
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4271.1283


Elemental analyses of fines in the Martian regolith at two widely separated landing sites, Chryse Planitia and Utopia Planitia, produced remarkably similar results. At both sites, the uppermost regolith contains abundant Si and Fe, with significant concentrations of Mg, Al, S, Ca, and Ti. The S concentration is one to two orders of magnitude higher, and K(<0.25 percent by weight) is at least 5 times lower than the average for the earth's crust. The trace elements Sr, Y, and possibly Zr, have been detected at concentrations near or below 100 parts per million. Pebblesized fragments sampled at Chryse contain more S than the bulk fines, and are thought to be pieces of a sulfate-cemented duricrust.