Mineralogy, provenance, and diagenesis of a potassic basaltic sandstone on Mars: CheMin X-ray diffraction of the Windjana sample (Kimberley area, Gale Crater)

Allan H. Treiman, David L. Bish, David T. Vaniman, Steve J. Chipera, David F. Blake, Doug W. Ming, Richard V. Morris, Thomas F. Bristow, Shaunna M. Morrison, Michael B. Baker, Elizabeth B. Rampe, Robert T. Downs, Justin Filiberto, Allen F. Glazner, Ralf Gellert, Lucy M. Thompson, Mariek E. Schmidt, Laetitia Le Deit, Roger C. Wiens, Amy C. McAdamCherie N. Achilles, Kenneth S. Edgett, Jack Farmer, Kim V. Fendrich, John P. Grotzinger, Sanjeev Gupta, John Michael Morookian, Megan E. Newcombe, Melissa S. Rice, John G. Spray, Edward M. Stolper, Dawn Y. Sumner, Ashwin R. Vasavada, Albert S. Yen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


The Windjana drill sample, a sandstone of the Dillinger member (Kimberley formation, Gale Crater, Mars), was analyzed by CheMin X-ray diffraction (XRD) in the MSL Curiosity rover. From Rietveld refinements of its XRD pattern, Windjana contains the following: sanidine (21% weight, ∼Or95); augite (20%); magnetite (12%); pigeonite; olivine; plagioclase; amorphous and smectitic material (∼25%); and percent levels of others including ilmenite, fluorapatite, and bassanite. From mass balance on the Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) chemical analysis, the amorphous material is Fe rich with nearly no other cations - like ferrihydrite. The Windjana sample shows little alteration and was likely cemented by its magnetite and ferrihydrite. From ChemCam Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS) chemical analyses, Windjana is representative of the Dillinger and Mount Remarkable members of the Kimberley formation. LIBS data suggest that the Kimberley sediments include at least three chemical components. The most K-rich targets have 5.6% K2O, ∼1.8 times that of Windjana, implying a sediment component with >40% sanidine, e.g., a trachyte. A second component is rich in mafic minerals, with little feldspar (like a shergottite). A third component is richer in plagioclase and in Na2O, and is likely to be basaltic. The K-rich sediment component is consistent with APXS and ChemCam observations of K-rich rocks elsewhere in Gale Crater. The source of this sediment component was likely volcanic. The presence of sediment from many igneous sources, in concert with Curiosity's identifications of other igneous materials (e.g., mugearite), implies that the northern rim of Gale Crater exposes a diverse igneous complex, at least as diverse as that found in similar-age terranes on Earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-106
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016


  • CheMin
  • MSL
  • Mars
  • Windjana
  • X-ray diffraction
  • sandstone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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