Clay minerals have been detected on Mars to outcrop mainly as alteration of ancient bedrock, and secondarily, as deposition from aqueous environments or interlayered with evaporitic deposits on Mars. In order to better constrain the alteration environments, we focused on the process to form clays from volcanic rocks and experimentally reproduced it at different temperature and pH. A fresh, holocrystalline alkali‐basalt sample collected in the Mount Etna volcanic sequence has been used as analogue of the Martian unaltered bedrock. Previous works considered only volcanic glass or single mineral, but this may not reflect the full environmental conditions. Instead, we altered the bulk rock and analyzed the changes of primary minerals to constrain the minimum environmental parameters to form clays. We observed that under acidic aqueous solution (pH ~ 3.5– 5.0) and moderate temperature (~150–175 °C), clinopyroxene and plagioclase are altered in smectite in just a few days, while higher temperature appear to favor oxides formation regardless of pH. Plagioclases can also be transformed in zeolite, commonly found in association with clays on Mars. This transformation may occur even at very shallow depth if a magmatic source is close or hydrothermalism is triggered by meteoritic impact.

Volcanic holocrystalline bedrock and hydrothermal alteration: A Terrestrial analogue for Mars

Anna Chiara Tangari
;
Fabio Scarciglia;Eugenio Piluso
2020

Abstract

Clay minerals have been detected on Mars to outcrop mainly as alteration of ancient bedrock, and secondarily, as deposition from aqueous environments or interlayered with evaporitic deposits on Mars. In order to better constrain the alteration environments, we focused on the process to form clays from volcanic rocks and experimentally reproduced it at different temperature and pH. A fresh, holocrystalline alkali‐basalt sample collected in the Mount Etna volcanic sequence has been used as analogue of the Martian unaltered bedrock. Previous works considered only volcanic glass or single mineral, but this may not reflect the full environmental conditions. Instead, we altered the bulk rock and analyzed the changes of primary minerals to constrain the minimum environmental parameters to form clays. We observed that under acidic aqueous solution (pH ~ 3.5– 5.0) and moderate temperature (~150–175 °C), clinopyroxene and plagioclase are altered in smectite in just a few days, while higher temperature appear to favor oxides formation regardless of pH. Plagioclases can also be transformed in zeolite, commonly found in association with clays on Mars. This transformation may occur even at very shallow depth if a magmatic source is close or hydrothermalism is triggered by meteoritic impact.
Mars; basaltic rock; clay minerals; zeolite; terrestrial analogue; lab experiment
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/310492
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