Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Magmatism is a critical process throughout the geological history of Earth and Mars, and one of the few processes capable of producing significant changes in the Martian surface and subsurface past the Noachian. The interaction between mafic magmatism and host rock has the potential to contribute to the surface volatile species, chief among which is sulfur. On Earth, mafic magmas intruding sulfur-rich sediments are rare; however, sulfur–rich soils exist with a near global extent on Mars, and evidence exists for both recent and ancient mafic magmatism. The intrusion of mafic magmas into sulfur-rich sediments is therefore expected on Mars, and is especially pertinent concerning proposed landing site for the ESA ExoMars mission, and the landing site of the NASA Mars 2020 mission, both of which are in proximity to a potential volcanic capping unit in direct contact with sulfate bearing sediments. Here we investigate a terrestrial analog in the San Rafael Swell on the Colorado Plateau in which numerous mafic dikes intrude, alter, and bake sulfur-rich sediments. Mafic dikes intruding the Curtis, Entrada Sandstone, and Carmel Formations act as analogs for volcanic/sediment interaction on Mars, specifically for Jezero Crater, Mawrth Vallis, and N-E Syrtis Major. Using Mars relevant instruments, mineralogical changes with respect to distance from the magmatic intrusion, as well as the spatial resolution necessary to detect these changes, are constrained. The investigated analogs are discovered to be dynamic, and similar systems on Mars will likely require both orbital and in-situ measurements to be detected due to resolution constraints.
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