Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Martian Geology More Diverse Than Previously Thought

November 18, 2013
Image Caption: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing new spectral "windows" into the diversity of Martian surface materials. Here in a volcanic caldera, bright magenta outcrops have a distinctive feldspar-rich composition. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS
Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online

For years, scientists have thought of Mars as being made up of just one kind of rock – a very simplistic planet compared to the diverse geology of Earth.

However, a new study in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests there may be granite on Mars and puts forward a theory for how it could have formed there.

“We’re providing the most compelling evidence to date that Mars has granitic rocks,” said study author James Wray, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The study is based on the large deposit of feldspar, a mineral found in granite, recently found in an inactive Martian volcano. The location of the feldspar suggests protracted magmatic activity under the Martian surface could produce large-scale granite deposits, the study team said.

The Martian surface is mostly covered with basalt, the dark-colored rock commonly found throughout Hawaii. However, in the area around the Martian feldspar deposit, minerals rich in iron and magnesium and common in basalts are almost completely absent.

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