Reconstructing Past Depositional and Diagenetic Processes through Quantitative Stratigraphic Analysis of the Martian Sedimentary Rock Record
High-resolution orbital and in situ observations acquired of the Martian surface during the past two decades provide the opportunity to study the rock record of Mars at an unprecedented level of detail. This dissertation consists of four studies whose common goal is to establish new standards for the quantitative analysis of visible and near-infrared data from the surface of Mars. Through the compilation of global image inventories, application of stratigraphic and sedimentologic statistical methods, and use of laboratory analogs, this dissertation provides insight into the history of past depositional and diagenetic processes on Mars. The first study presents a global inventory of stratified deposits observed in images from the High Resolution Image Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on-board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This work uses the widespread coverage of high-resolution orbital images to make global-scale observations about the processes controlling sediment transport and deposition on Mars. The next chapter presents a study of bed thickness distributions in Martian sedimentary deposits, showing how statistical methods can be used to establish quantitative criteria for evaluating the depositional history of stratified deposits observed in orbital images. The third study tests the ability of spectral mixing models to obtain quantitative mineral abundances from near-infrared reflectance spectra of clay and sulfate mixtures in the laboratory for application to the analysis of orbital spectra of sedimentary deposits on Mars. The final study employs a statistical analysis of the size, shape, and distribution of nodules observed by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover team in the Sheepbed mudstone at Yellowknife Bay in Gale crater. This analysis is used to evaluate hypotheses for nodule formation and to gain insight into the diagenetic history of an ancient habitable environment on Mars.
- Pub Date:
- Geology;Sedimentary geology;Planetology