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Aqueous alteration of the Vastitas Borealis Formation at the Tianwen-1 landing site TEXT SIZE: A A A

Sediments on the northern plains of Mars experienced aqueous alteration during interaction with a limited or ephemeral water source, according to spectral analyses of Martian rocks and soils encountered by the Zhurong rover.

The Vastitas Borealis Formation is a Hesperian-aged sedimentary unit that mainly covers the Martian northern plains. Its environment of formation is uncertain but may be related to an ancient Martian ocean, outflow channel deposits, compaction and drainage activities, or subsurface ice-related processes. Here we investigate the geological evolution of the Vastitas Borealis Formation using geochemical and mineralogical data acquired by the Mars Surface Composition Detector on board the Zhurong rover at the Tianwen-1 landing site. We find that the fine-grained soil is very similar to the ubiquitous surface dust at other landing sites on Mars but mixed with calcium-rich and magnesium-poor local materials. These materials are mostly igneous minerals mixed with allophane and imogolite/opal and appear to have a low degree of chemical alteration. We suggest that these deposits likely formed by alteration of extensive volcaniclastic soils in limited or ephemeral water under cold conditions, which largely supports the hypotheses of a frozen ocean and sublimation.

Publication name

 Communications Earth & Environment, Volume 3, Issue 1, Article Number 280, DOI 10.1038/s43247-022-00614-3, Published NOV 16 2022

Author(s)

 Liu, Changqing; Ling, Zongcheng; Wu, Zhongchen; Zhang, Jiang; Chen, Jian; Fu, Xiaohui; Qiao, Le; Liu, Ping; Li, Bo; Zhang, Li; Xin, Yanqing; Shi, Erbin; Cao, Haijun; Tian, Shangke; Wan, Sheng; Bai, Hongchun; Liu, Jianzhong

Corresponding author(s) 

 Ling, Zongcheng
 zcling@sdu.edu.cn 
 -Shandong Univ, Sch Space Sci & Phys, Inst Space Sci, Shandong Key Lab Opt Astron & Solar Terr Environm, Weihai 264209, Peoples R China
 -Chinese Acad Sci, CAS Ctr Excellence Comparat Planetol, Hefei 230026, Peoples R China

Author(s) from IGCAS   Liu, Jianzhong

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