Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Opportunity observations of the Burns formation: Crater hopping at Meridiani Planum

R. E. Arvidson, James Bell, J. G. Catalano, B. C. Clark, V. K. Fox, R. Gellert, J. P. Grotzinger, E. A. Guinness, K. E. Herkenhoff, A. H. Knoll, M. G.A. Lapotre, S. M. McLennan, D. W. Ming, R. V. Morris, S. L. Murchie, K. E. Powell, M. D. Smith, S. W. Squyres, M. J. Wolff, J. J. Wray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars hyperspectral (1.0-2.65 μm) along-track oversampled observations covering Victoria, Santa Maria, Endeavour, and Ada craters were processed to 6 m/pixel and used in combination with Opportunity observations to detect and map hydrated Mg and Ca sulfate minerals in the Burns formation. The strongest spectral absorption features were found to be associated with outcrops that are relatively young and fresh (Ada) or preferentially scoured of dust, soil, and coatings by prevailing winds. At Victoria and Santa Maria, the scoured areas are on the southeastern rims and walls, opposite to the sides where wind-blown sands extend out of the craters. At Endeavour, the deepest absorptions are in Botany Bay, a subdued and buried rim segment that exhibits high thermal inertias, extensive outcrops, and is interpreted to be a region of enhanced wind scour extending up and out of the crater. Ada, Victoria, and Santa Maria outcrops expose the upper portion of the preserved Burns formation and show spectral evidence for the presence of kieserite. In contrast, gypsum is pervasive spectrally in the Botany Bay exposures. Gypsum, a relatively insoluble evaporative mineral, is interpreted to have formed close to the contact with the Noachian crust as rising groundwaters brought brines close to and onto the surface, either as a direct precipitate or during later diagenesis. The presence of kieserite at the top of the section is hypothesized to reflect precipitation from evaporatively concentrated brines or dehydration of polyhydrated sulfates, in both scenarios as the aqueous environment evolved to very arid conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-451
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • MER
  • MRO
  • Meridiani
  • Opportunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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