Special Research Articles

In Situ Evidence for an Ancient Aqueous Environment at Meridiani Planum, Mars

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Science  03 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5702, pp. 1709-1714
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104559

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Abstract

Sedimentary rocks at Eagle crater in Meridiani Planum are composed of fine-grained siliciclastic materials derived from weathering of basaltic rocks, sulfate minerals (including magnesium sulfate and jarosite) that constitute several tens of percent of the rock by weight, and hematite. Cross-stratification observed in rock outcrops indicates eolian and aqueous transport. Diagenetic features include hematite-rich concretions and crystal-mold vugs. We interpret the rocks to be a mixture of chemical and siliciclastic sediments with a complex diagenetic history. The environmental conditions that they record include episodic inundation by shallow surface water, evaporation, and desiccation. The geologic record at Meridiani Planum suggests that conditions were suitable for biological activity for a period of time in martian history.

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