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Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle

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Title: Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle  
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Subject: Coprates quadrangle, Aeolis quadrangle, Amazonis quadrangle, Amenthes quadrangle, Arabia quadrangle
Collection: Margaritifer Sinus Quadrangle, Mars
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle

Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle
Map of Margartifer Sinus quadrangle from Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data. The highest elevations are red and the lowest are blue.
Image of the Margaritifer Sinus Quadrangle (MC-19). Most of the region contains heavily cratered highlands, marked with large expanses of chaotic terrain. In the northwestern part, the major rift zone of Valles Marineris connects with a broad canyon filled with chaotic terrain.

The Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle is one of a series of 30 quadrangle maps of Mars used by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Astrogeology Research Program. The Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle is also referred to as MC-19 (Mars Chart-19).[1]

The Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle covers the area from 0° to 45° west longitude and 0° to 30° south latitude on Mars. This quadrangle shows many signs of past water with evidence of lakes, deltas, ancient rivers, inverted channels, and chaos regions that released water.[2] Margaritifer Sinus contains some of the longest lake-chain systems on Mars, perhaps because of a wetter climate, more groundwater, or some of each factor. The Samara/Himera lake-chain system is about 1800 km long; the Parara/Loire valley network and lake-chain system is about 1100 km long.[3] A low area between Parana Valles and Loire Vallis is believed to have once held a lake.[4][5] The 154 km diameter Holden Crater also once held a lake.[6] Near Holden Crater is a graben, called Erythraea Fossa, that once held a chain of three lakes.[7]

This region of Mars is famous because the Opportunity Rover landed there on January 25, 2004 at 1.94°S and 354.47°E (5.53° W).


  • Images 1
  • What Opportunity Rover Discovered about Rocks and Minerals at Meridiani Planum 2
    • Minerals in Dust 2.1
    • Bedrock Minerals 2.2
    • Evidence for Water 2.3
    • Rock from Impact 2.4
    • Meteorites 2.5
    • Geological History 2.6
  • Vallis 3
  • Branched streams seen by Viking 4
  • Aureum Chaos 5
  • Mars Science Laboratory 6
  • Inverted relief 7
  • Deltas 8
  • Craters 9
  • Gallery 10
  • See also 11
  • External links 12
  • References 13


This panorama of Eagle crater shows outcroppings which are thought to have water origins.

What Opportunity Rover Discovered about Rocks and Minerals at Meridiani Planum

The rock "Berry Bowl".
This image, taken by the microscopic imager, reveals shiny, spherical objects embedded within the trench wall
"Blueberries" (hematite spheres) on a rocky outcrop at Eagle Crater. Note the merged triplet in the upper left.

Opportunity Rover found that the soil at Meridiani Planum was very similar to the soil at Gusev crater and Ares Vallis; however in many places at Meridiani the soil was covered with round, hard, gray spherules that were named "blueberries."[8] These blueberries were found to be composed almost entirely of the mineral hematite. It was decided that the spectra signal spotted from orbit by Mars Odyssey was produced by these spherules. After further study it was decided that the blueberries were concretions formed in the ground by water.[9] Over time, these concretions weathered from what was overlying rock, and then became concentrated on the surface as a lag deposit. The concentration of spherules in bedrock could have produced the observed blueberry covering from the weathering of as little as one meter of rock.[10][11] Most of the soil consisted of olivine basalt sands that did not come from the local rocks. The sand may have been transported from somewhere else.[12]

Minerals in Dust

A Mössbauer spectrum was made of the dust that gathered on Opportunity’s capture magnet. The results suggested that the magnetic component of the dust was titanomagnetite, rather than just plain magnetite, as was once thought. A small amount of olivine was also detected which was interpreted as indicating a long arid period on the planet. On the other hand, a small amount of hematite that was present meant that there may have been liquid water for a short time in the early history of the planet.[13] Because the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) found it easy to grind into the bedrocks, it is thought that the rocks are much softer than the rocks at Gusev crater.

Bedrock Minerals

Few rocks were visible on the surface where Opportunity landed, but bedrock that was exposed in craters was examined by the suit of instruments on the Rover.[14] Bedrock rocks were found to be sedimentary rocks with a high concentration of sulfur in the form of calcium and magnesium sulfates. Some of the sulfates that may be present in bedrocks are kieserite, sulfate anhydrate, bassanite, hexahydrite, epsomite, and gypsum. Salts, such as halite, bischofite, antarcticite, bloedite, vanthoffite, or gluberite may also be present.[15][16]

The rocks contained the sulfates had a light tone compared to isolated rocks and rocks examined by landers/rovers at other locations on Mars. The spectra of these light toned rocks, containing hydrated sulfates, were similar to spectra taken by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer on board the Mars Global Surveyor. The same spectrum is found over a large area, so it is believed that water once appeared over a wide region, not just in the area explored by Opportunity Rover.[17]

The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) found rather high levels of phosphorus in the rocks. Similar high levels were found by other rovers at Ares Vallis and Gusev Crater, so it has been hypothesized that the mantle of Mars may be phosphorus-rich.[18] The minerals in the rocks could have originated by acid weathering of basalt. Because the solubility of phosphorus is related to the solubility of uranium, thorium, and rare earth elements, they are all also expected to be enriched in rocks.[19]

When Opportunity Rover traveled to the rim of Endeavour crater, it soon found a white vein that was later identified as being pure gypsum.[20][21] It was formed when water carrying gypsum in solution deposited the mineral in a crack in the rock. A picture of this vein, called "Homestake" formation, is shown below.

"Homestake" formation 

Evidence for Water

Cross-bedding features in rock "Last Chance".

Examination of Meridiani rocks found strong evidence for past water. The mineral called jarosite which only forms in water was found in all bedrocks. This discovery proved that water once existed in Meridiani Planum[22] In addition, some rocks showed small laminations (layers) with shapes that are only made by gently flowing water.[23] The first such laminations were found in a rock called "The Dells." Geologists would say that the cross-stratification showed festoon geometry from transport in subaqueous ripples.[16] A picture of cross-stratification, also called cross-bedding, is shown on the left.

Box-shaped holes in some rocks were caused by sulfates forming large crystals, and then when the crystals later dissolved, holes, called vugs, were left behind.[23] The concentration of the element bromine in rocks was highly variable probably because it is very soluble. Water may have concentrated it in places before it evaporated. Another mechanism for concentrating highly-soluble bromine compounds is frost deposition at night that would form very thin films of water that would concentrate bromine in certain spots.[8]

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