Status Report

Spectral Properties of Lake Superior Banded Iron Formation: Application to Martian Hematite Deposits

By SpaceRef Editor
August 22, 2006
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Spectral Properties of Lake Superior Banded Iron Formation: Application to Martian Hematite Deposits

Aug 2006, Vol. 6, No. 4: 563-580

Full Paper

Several locations have been identified on Mars that expose bulk, coarsely crystalline gray hematite. These deposits have been interpreted as being sedimentary and formed in aqueous environments. Lake Superior Type (LST) banded iron formation (BIF) was investigated as a spectral and possible process analog to these deposits. In northern Michigan, LST BIF formed in a sedimentary, continental shelf or shallow basin environment under stable tectonic conditions, and the oxide facies contains gray, crystalline hematite. These deposits are Proterozoic in age and contain microfossils associated with the early diversification of life on Earth. Samples of the hematite-bearing oxide facies, as well as the carbonate facies, were collected and analyzed for their spectral and geochemical characteristics. Sample spectra were measured in the visible, near-infrared, and thermal infrared for comparison with remote and in situ spectra obtained at Mars. Thin section analysis, as well as X-ray diffraction and scaning electron microscopy measurements, were performed to determine detailed geochemistry. There is no evidence for BIF at Opportunity’s Meridiani landing site, and the results of this work will provide useful data for determining whether BIFs exist elsewhere on Mars and are, thus, relevant to current and future Mars exploration missions.

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