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    Meteorites at Meridiani Planum provide evidence for significant amounts of surface and near-surface water on early Mars

    Fairen, A.G. and Dohm, J.M. and Baker, V.R. and Thompson, S.D. and Mahaney, W.C. and Herkenhoff, K.E. and Rodriguez, J.A.P. and Davila, A.F. and Schulze-Makuch, D. and El-Maarry, Mohamed Ramy and Uceda, E.R. and Amils, R. and Miyamoto, H. and Kim, K.J. and Anderson, R.C. and McKay, C.P. (2011) Meteorites at Meridiani Planum provide evidence for significant amounts of surface and near-surface water on early Mars. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 46 (12), pp. 1832-1841. ISSN 1086-9379.

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    Abstract

    Six large iron meteorites have been discovered in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in a nearly 25 km‐long traverse. Herein, we review and synthesize the available data to propose that the discovery and characteristics of the six meteorites could be explained as the result of their impact into a soft and wet surface, sometime during the Noachian or the Hesperian, subsequently to be exposed at the Martian surface through differential erosion. As recorded by its sediments and chemical deposits, Meridiani has been interpreted to have undergone a watery past, including a shallow sea, a playa, an environment of fluctuating ground water, and/or an icy landscape. Meteorites could have been encased upon impact and/or subsequently buried, and kept underground for a long time, shielded from the atmosphere. The meteorites apparently underwent significant chemical weathering due to aqueous alteration, as indicated by cavernous features that suggest differential acidic corrosion removing less resistant material and softer inclusions. During the Amazonian, the almost complete disappearance of surface water and desiccation of the landscape, followed by induration of the sediments and subsequent differential erosion and degradation of Meridiani sediments, including at least 10–80 m of deflation in the last 3–3.5 Gy, would have exposed the buried meteorites. We conclude that the iron meteorites support the hypothesis that Mars once had a denser atmosphere and considerable amounts of water and/or water ice at and/or near the surface.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Earth and Planetary Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2018 14:17
    Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 14:17
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/25397

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