Date of Award
Master of Science
Hot and cold springs on Earth represent environments with diverse environmental conditions and microbial communities. Identifying ancient springs preserved in the rock record remains a challenge for scientists interpreting deposits on Earth and Mars. The purpose of this research is to characterize a Jurassic hot spring deposit and Quaternary tufa terraces with the goal of identifying parameters which will aid researchers in the classification of spring deposits. Ten Mile Graben in east-central Utah contains over 40 tufa terraces which range in age from 0-400ka. There are also Jurassic Brushy Basin Member outcrops which are composed of abundant phyllosilicates, silica-rich deposits, and carbonate rocks. I documented physical characteristics of the Brushy Basin Member and the tufa terraces in the field. I conducted further analyses of the Brushy Basin Member (field spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction) in order to determine mineralogy. Features commonly observed in both the Brushy Basin Member and tufa terraces include abundant mineral veins, delicate textures, wavy bedding (microbialite structures), and planar bedding. Mineral assemblages in the Brushy Basin Member included kaolinite, halloysite, loughlinite, chlorite, muscovite, smectite, and possibly tridymite. Results of my analyses suggests that the Brushy Basin Member at Ten Mile Graben is an excellent analog for silica-rich deposits at Gale Crater on Mars.
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