Evidence of granite found on Mars

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 12:20

Washington: Researchers have claimed to have found stronger evidence of granite`s existence on Mars.

The researchers now have a new theory for how the granite - an igneous rock common on Earth-could have formed there.

Large amounts of a mineral found in granite, known as feldspar, were found in an ancient Martian volcano. Further, minerals that are common in basalts that are rich in iron and magnesium, ubiquitous on Mars, are nearly completely absent at this location.

The location of the feldspar also provides an explanation for how granite could have formed on Mars. Granite, or its eruptive equivalent, rhyolite, is often found on Earth in tectonically active regions such as subduction zones.

This is unlikely on Mars, but the research team concluded that prolonged magmatic activity on Mars can also produce these compositions on large scales.

Lead author James Wray, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said that they`re providing the most compelling evidence to date that Mars has granitic rocks.

The new study bolsters the evidence for granite on Mars by using remote sensing techniques with infrared spectroscopy to survey a large volcano on Mars that was active for billions of years.

The location of the feldspar and absence of dark minerals inside the ancient volcano provides an explanation for how granite could form on Mars.

While the magma slowly cools in the subsurface, low density melt separates from dense crystals in a process called fractionation. The cycle is repeated over and over for millennia until granite is formed.

This process could happen inside of a volcano that is active over a long period of time, according to the computer simulations run in collaboration with Josef Dufek, who is also an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

First Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 12:19
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