Thermally altered palagonitic tephra: a spectral and process analog to the soil and dust of Mars

J. F. Bell, R. V. Morris, J. B. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


We studied six palagonitic soil samples (PH-1 through PH-6) which were collected at 30cm intervals from a lava slab on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The samples present an alteration sequence caused by heating during emplacement of molten lava over a preexisting tephra cone. They are both spectral and weathering/alteration process analogs to the Martian surface. Techniques employed included visible and near-IR spectroscopy, Mossbauer spectroscopy, and magnetic analysis. The reflectivity specta of samples PH-2 through PH-4 are similar to spectra of palagonites reported by other workers to be good Mars visible to near-IR spectral analogs. The reflectivity spectrum of PH-1 is an even better spectra analog to Mars in that it exhibits absorption features indicative of both nanophase and crystalline ferric oxides (similar to several new Martian telescopic data sets). Our sampling site may also be a process analog for Mars, in that heating episodes by volcanism and/or impact cratering could produce crystalline ferric oxides from poorly crystalline palagonitic material. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3373-3385
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of geophysical research
Issue numberE2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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