Structure and stratigraphy of Home Plate from the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover

Kevin W. Lewis, Oded Aharonson, John P. Grotzinger, Steven W. Squyres, James F. Bell, Larry S. Crumpler, Mariek E. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Home Plate is a layered plateau observed by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit in the Columbia Hills of Gusev Crater. The structure is roughly 80 m in diameter, and the raised margin exposes a stratigraphic section roughly 1.5 m in thickness. Previous work has proposed a pyroclastic surge, possibly followed by aeolian reworking of the ash, for the depositional origin for these beds. We have performed a quantitative analysis of the structure, stratigraphy, and sedimentology at this location. Our results are consistent with an explosive volcaniclastic origin for the layered sediments. Analysis of bedding orientations over half of the circumference of Home Plate reveals a radially inward dipping structure, consistent with deposition in the volcanic vent, or topographic draping of a preexisting depression. Detailed observations of the sedimentology show that grain sorting varies significantly between outcrops on the east and west sides. Observations on the western side show a well-sorted population of sand sized grains which comprise the bedrock, while the eastern margin shows a wider range of grain sizes, including some coarse granules. These observations are consistent with primary deposition by a pyroclastic surge. However, aeolian reworking of the upper stratigraphic unit is not ruled out. Identification of explosive volcanic products on Mars may implicate magma interaction with subsurface hydrologic reservoirs in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE12S36
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 20 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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