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Formation and Diagenesis of Sedimentary Rocks in Gale Crater, Mars

Citation

Siebach, Kirsten Leigh (2016) Formation and Diagenesis of Sedimentary Rocks in Gale Crater, Mars. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z97D2S4K. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:06032016-155530034

Abstract

The history of surface processes on Mars is recorded in the sedimentary rock record. Sedimentary rock layers exposed in Gale Crater on the modern crater floor (Aeolus Palus) and on Mount Sharp (Aeolus Mons), which hosts one of the more complete records of transitions between major mineralogical eras on Mars, have been investigated by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover since landing in August 2012. This dissertation focuses on the formation and diagenesis of the sedimentary rocks in Gale crater in order to assess the compositional diversity of the volcanic sources around Gale crater, the effects of transport processes on the sediment grains, and the volumes and geochemistry of water that transported and cemented the sediments. The first study uses orbital mapping of a distinctive cemented boxwork layer on Mount Sharp to constrain a minimum volume of groundwater available to form this layer, 1 km above the modern floor of Gale, with implications for the formation of Mount Sharp. The other three studies use Curiosity rover imagery and geochemical data to investigate sedimentary rocks in Aeolus Palus and at the base of Mount Sharp. The second study identifies and describes diagenetic synaeresis cracks in the Sheepbed mudstone, at the lowest elevation in Aeolus Palus, with implications for the duration of water saturation of these lake sediments. The third and fourth studies identify and explain geochemical trends in the fluvio-deltaic Bradbury group, the Murray mudstone formation, and the eolian Stimson sandstone, focusing on geochemical diversity in the source regions for each of these units and how different depositional processes are reflected in the geochemical data. The sedimentary system in Gale crater has changed our understanding of Mars by expanding the known variety of igneous rocks, increasing estimates of the longevity of surface water lakes, and showing that there were once habitable environments on our neighboring planet.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Mars, sedimentology, sedimentary petrology, MSL
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geology
Thesis Availability:Mixed availability, specified at file level
Research Advisor(s):
  • Grotzinger, John P.
Thesis Committee:
  • Asimow, Paul David (chair)
  • Lamb, Michael P.
  • Ehlmann, Bethany L.
  • Farley, Kenneth A.
  • Grotzinger, John P.
Defense Date:19 May 2016
Projects:Mars Science Laboratory
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06032016-155530034
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:06032016-155530034
DOI:10.7907/Z97D2S4K
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://10.1002/2013JE004508DOIChapter 2 Publication
http://10.1002/2014JE004623DOIChapter 3 Publication
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Siebach, Kirsten Leigh0000-0002-6628-6297
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9838
Collection:CaltechTHESIS
Deposited By: Kirsten Siebach
Deposited On:09 Jun 2016 04:31
Last Modified:18 May 2017 19:42

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