Large deposits of plagioclase feldspar have been found in the walls of Valles Marineris on Mars

Large deposits of plagioclase feldspar have been found in the walls of Valles Marineris, on Mars

The raw vs. denoised spectra (kriged with metal identification) of the CRISM FRT000B8E2 are compared with the USGS Anorthite HS201.3B reference spectrometer. credit: Geophysical Research Letters (2023). doi: 10.1029/2022GL100772

A team of researchers at the University of Lorraine in France, working with a colleague from Brock University in Canada, and one from the University of Clermont Auvergne and the University of Lyon, both in France, found evidence of large deposits of plagioclase feldspar in the walls of Vallés. Marineris on Mars. In their study published in the journal Geophysical Research Lettersthe group used data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to find igneous rocks and determine what the discovery might reveal about the planet’s history.

Plagioclase feldspar is formed from cooled magma or lava, which indicates that the material in Valles Marineris originated from volcanic activity. Valles Marineris is a huge network of channels or cuts on the surface near the planet’s equator. The network is about 4,000 meters long and current theory suggests that it was formed by two people tectonic plates It disintegrates with subsequent erosion adding to its features.

Plagioclase feldspar is rarely seen on Mars, which makes the find all the more significant. Before this new discovery, almost all of them were found deep in the surface of Mars and had only been exposed to the impacts of meteorites.

Data from the MRO showed a layer of igneous rock approximately 2 meters thick extending for several kilometres. The researchers suggest that its shape indicates that it was formed by a lava flow on the planet’s surface. They note that the layer they observed is several kilometers below other rocks, which are likely to have formed as well. lava flow. Spectral analysis so far has suggested that it is mostly basalt.

The researchers note that plagioclase feldspar is actually a class of rock made up of minerals bound together. Thus, further study is needed to determine the exact composition comprising the layer they observed in Valles Marineris. Learning its true composition can help determine whether the layer is made of flowing lava or ash flowing from above. Finding this could help identify the types of rocks that make up the Martian crust as a whole—until now, they have yet to be identified.

more information:
Jessica Flahaut et al, New Discoveries of Feldspar-bearing Igneous Rocks in the Walls of Valles Marineris, Mars, Geophysical Research Letters (2023). doi: 10.1029/2022GL100772

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