Redox stratification of an ancient lake in Gale crater, Mars

J A Hurowitz, J P Grotzinger, W W Fischer, S M McLennan, R E Milliken, N Stein, A R Vasavada, D F Blake, E Dehouck, J L Eigenbrode, A G Fairén, J Frydenvang, R Gellert, J A Grant, S Gupta, K E Herkenhoff , D W Ming, E B Rampe, M E Schmidt, K L Siebach, K Stack-Morgan, D Y Sumner, R C Wiens. 2017. Redox stratification of an ancient lake in Gale crater, Mars. Science 356, 6341, DOI: 10.1126/science.aah6849

In 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars to assess its potential as a habitat for past life and investigate the paleoclimate record preserved by sedimentary rocks inside the similar to 150-kilometer-diameter Gale impact crater. Geological reconstructions from Curiosity rover data have revealed an ancient, habitable lake environment fed by rivers draining into the crater. We synthesize geochemical and mineralogical data from lake-bed mudstones collected during the first 1300 martian solar days of rover operations in Gale. We present evidence for lake redox stratification, established by depth-dependent variations in atmospheric oxidant and dissolved-solute concentrations. Paleoclimate proxy data indicate that a transition from colder to warmer climate conditions is preserved in the stratigraphy. Finally, a late phase of geochemical modification by saline fluids is recognized.

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