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J Geophys Res Planets. 2016 Jan;121(1):75-106. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Mineralogy, provenance, and diagenesis of a potassic basaltic sandstone on Mars: CheMin X-ray diffraction of the Windjana sample (Kimberley area, Gale Crater).

Author information

Lunar and Planetary Institute Houston Texas USA.
Department of Geological Sciences Indiana University Bloomington Indiana USA.
Planetary Science Institute Tucson Arizona USA.
Chesapeake Energy Corporation Oklahoma City Oklahoma USA.
NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field California USA.
Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division NASA Johnson Space Center Houston Texas USA.
Department of Geosciences University of Arizona Tucson Arizona USA.
Division of Geologic and Planetary Sciences California Institute of Technology Pasadena California USA.
Department of Geology Southern Illinois University Carbondale Illinois USA.
Department of Geological Sciences University of North Carolina Chapel Hill North Carolina USA.
Department of Physics University of Guelf Guelph Ontario Canada.
Department of Earth Sciences University of New Brunswick Fredericton New Brunswick Canada.
Department of Earth Sciences Brock University St. Catharines Ontario Canada.
Laboratoire Planétologie et Géodynamique de Nantes, LPGN/CNRS UMR6112, and Université de Nantes Nantes France.
Space Remote Sensing Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos New Mexico USA.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt Maryland USA.
Malin Space Science Systems, Inc. San Diego California USA.
School of Earth and Space Exploration Arizona State University Tempe Arizona USA.
Department of Earth Science and Engineering Imperial College London UK.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology Pasadena California USA.
Department of Earth Sciences Western Washington University Bellingham Washington USA.
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences University of California Davis California USA.


The Windjana drill sample, a sandstone of the Dillinger member (Kimberley formation, Gale Crater, Mars), was analyzed by CheMin X-ray diffraction (XRD) in the MSL Curiosity rover. From Rietveld refinements of its XRD pattern, Windjana contains the following: sanidine (21% weight, ~Or95); augite (20%); magnetite (12%); pigeonite; olivine; plagioclase; amorphous and smectitic material (~25%); and percent levels of others including ilmenite, fluorapatite, and bassanite. From mass balance on the Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) chemical analysis, the amorphous material is Fe rich with nearly no other cations-like ferrihydrite. The Windjana sample shows little alteration and was likely cemented by its magnetite and ferrihydrite. From ChemCam Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS) chemical analyses, Windjana is representative of the Dillinger and Mount Remarkable members of the Kimberley formation. LIBS data suggest that the Kimberley sediments include at least three chemical components. The most K-rich targets have 5.6% K2O, ~1.8 times that of Windjana, implying a sediment component with >40% sanidine, e.g., a trachyte. A second component is rich in mafic minerals, with little feldspar (like a shergottite). A third component is richer in plagioclase and in Na2O, and is likely to be basaltic. The K-rich sediment component is consistent with APXS and ChemCam observations of K-rich rocks elsewhere in Gale Crater. The source of this sediment component was likely volcanic. The presence of sediment from many igneous sources, in concert with Curiosity's identifications of other igneous materials (e.g., mugearite), implies that the northern rim of Gale Crater exposes a diverse igneous complex, at least as diverse as that found in similar-age terranes on Earth.


CheMin; MSL; Mars; Windjana; X‐ray diffraction; sandstone

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