Mineralogic and Petrologic Implications of Viking Geochemical Results From Mars: Interim Report

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Science  17 Dec 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4271, pp. 1288-1293
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4271.1288


Chemical results from four samples of martian fines delivered to Viking landers 1 and 2 are remarkably similar in that they all have high iron; moderate magnesium, calcium, and sulfur; low aluminum; and apparently very low alkalies and trace elements. This composition is best interpreted as representing the weathering products of mafic igneous rocks. A mineralogic model, derived from computer mixing studies and laboratory analog preparations, suggests that Mars fines could be an intimate mixture of about 80 percent iron-rich clay, about 10 percent magnesium sulfate (kieserite?), about 5 percent carbonate (calcite), and about 5 percent iron oxides (hematite, magnetite, maghemite, goethite?). The mafic nature of the present fines (distributed globally) and their probable source rocks seems to preclude large-scale planetary differentiation of a terrestrial nature.

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