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Mudstones on Mars?

Our interest in Mars is inspired by the basic principle that weathering of Martian basalts in the presence of water should give rise to clays and mudstones. The differential weathering seen in MOC images suggests alternating hard and soft layers of rock and, by analogy with Earth, suggests that the softer intervals are mudstone dominated.

Schieber, J., 2001. Finding life on Mars: A mudrock geologist's perspective. 32nd Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference, Houston, March 12-16th 2001, Abstract Volume - CD.  download PDF file (left click on link and click on "Save as"...)

 

Mars Science Lab

 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is being designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting microbial life. Determining past habitability on Mars will give the scientific community a better understanding of whether life could have existed on the red planet and, if it could have existed, an idea of where to look for it in the future.

J. Schieber is on the team that will operate the science cameras on MSL and engage in geological interpretation of the images sent back from Mars. The cameras are developed by Malin Space Science Systems, the lead contractor for the science cameras on MSL.

   

West Candor Layers

The West Candor region of Mars (part of Valles Marineris) contains numerous outcrops of layered rocks that may be of sedimentary origin. In order to determine whether these layers were indeed sediments, graduate student Kevin Thaisen is working on a project to unravel the depsotional architecture of these rocks. Systematic differences in the depositional architecture of volcaniclastic vs aqueous deposited sedimentary rocks may shed light on the proportions of true sedimentary rocks vs volcaniclastics and impact surge deposits.

At right: MOC image MOC2-658 from West Candor Chasma (image NASA/JPL/MSSS). Four low angle truncation surfaces (disconformities) are marked with yellow arrows and circled numbers. The surface marked (2) shows deeper incision and what appears to be channel-fill complexes (red arrows). Blue arrows point to exhumed channels. White arrow and question mark point to features that may be exhumed impact craters.

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© Jürgen Schieber, IU Bloomington Department of Geosciences
Last updated: June 14, 2006.