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Volcanogenic fluvial-lacustrine environments in iceland and their utility for identifying past habitability on Mars.

Cousins C - Life (Basel) (2015)

Bottom Line: The availability of liquid water coupled with the potential longevity of such systems renders these localities prime targets for the future exploration of Martian biosignatures.This meltwater can be stored to create subglacial, englacial, and proglacial lakes, or be released as catastrophic floods and proglacial fluvial systems.Sedimentary deposits produced by the resulting fluvial-lacustrine activity are extensive, with lithologies dominated by basaltic minerals, low-temperature alteration assemblages (e.g., smectite clays, calcite), and amorphous, poorly crystalline phases (basaltic glass, palagonite, nanophase iron oxides).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: UK Centre for Astrobiology, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, UK. c.cousins@ed.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
The search for once-habitable locations on Mars is increasingly focused on environments dominated by fluvial and lacustrine processes, such as those investigated by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. The availability of liquid water coupled with the potential longevity of such systems renders these localities prime targets for the future exploration of Martian biosignatures. Fluvial-lacustrine environments associated with basaltic volcanism are highly relevant to Mars, but their terrestrial counterparts have been largely overlooked as a field analogue. Such environments are common in Iceland, where basaltic volcanism interacts with glacial ice and surface snow to produce large volumes of meltwater within an otherwise cold and dry environment. This meltwater can be stored to create subglacial, englacial, and proglacial lakes, or be released as catastrophic floods and proglacial fluvial systems. Sedimentary deposits produced by the resulting fluvial-lacustrine activity are extensive, with lithologies dominated by basaltic minerals, low-temperature alteration assemblages (e.g., smectite clays, calcite), and amorphous, poorly crystalline phases (basaltic glass, palagonite, nanophase iron oxides). This paper reviews examples of these environments, including their sedimentary deposits and microbiology, within the context of utilising these localities for future Mars analogue studies and instrument testing.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Total Alkali Silica plot adapted from [29] TES = Thermal Emission Spectrometer, GRS = Gamma Ray Spectrometer and including MSL Curiosity APXS data (Tables S1–S3, from [26]; Table 7 from [27]) and supplementary data (* marked) from [35]. All additional data added are 100%-normalised volatile free values.
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life-05-00568-f001: Total Alkali Silica plot adapted from [29] TES = Thermal Emission Spectrometer, GRS = Gamma Ray Spectrometer and including MSL Curiosity APXS data (Tables S1–S3, from [26]; Table 7 from [27]) and supplementary data (* marked) from [35]. All additional data added are 100%-normalised volatile free values.

Mentions: The volcanic island of Iceland is unique in that its volcanotectonic setting lies at a juxtaposed mantle plume and rift system [34] within a near-arctic location. This volcanotectonic setting results in the crust having a broadly basaltic composition (Figure 1), with tholeiitic eruptive products reflecting these two main magmatic sources within the active rift zone [35,36]. Overall, the majority of Holocene basalts comprise three dominant magma series from tholeiitic, transitional alkalic, to alkalic [35,36], with Pleistocene basalts (predominantly subglacially-erupted pillow lavas and volcaniclastics, and interglacial lavas) exhibiting much the same trend [36,37]. This provides excellent examples of volcanogenic fluvial–lacustrine terrains, deposits, and environments where the primary crust and sediment parent material is basaltic in composition. The combination of Fe-Mg rich and Al-Si poor crust with aqueous environments that are locally influenced by elevated sulfur input due to their proximity to (or interaction with) volcanic activity make these sites valuable field models for detrital and authigenic mineral assemblages and the biosignatures deposited and potentially preserved.


Volcanogenic fluvial-lacustrine environments in iceland and their utility for identifying past habitability on Mars.

Cousins C - Life (Basel) (2015)

Total Alkali Silica plot adapted from [29] TES = Thermal Emission Spectrometer, GRS = Gamma Ray Spectrometer and including MSL Curiosity APXS data (Tables S1–S3, from [26]; Table 7 from [27]) and supplementary data (* marked) from [35]. All additional data added are 100%-normalised volatile free values.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4390869&req=5

life-05-00568-f001: Total Alkali Silica plot adapted from [29] TES = Thermal Emission Spectrometer, GRS = Gamma Ray Spectrometer and including MSL Curiosity APXS data (Tables S1–S3, from [26]; Table 7 from [27]) and supplementary data (* marked) from [35]. All additional data added are 100%-normalised volatile free values.
Mentions: The volcanic island of Iceland is unique in that its volcanotectonic setting lies at a juxtaposed mantle plume and rift system [34] within a near-arctic location. This volcanotectonic setting results in the crust having a broadly basaltic composition (Figure 1), with tholeiitic eruptive products reflecting these two main magmatic sources within the active rift zone [35,36]. Overall, the majority of Holocene basalts comprise three dominant magma series from tholeiitic, transitional alkalic, to alkalic [35,36], with Pleistocene basalts (predominantly subglacially-erupted pillow lavas and volcaniclastics, and interglacial lavas) exhibiting much the same trend [36,37]. This provides excellent examples of volcanogenic fluvial–lacustrine terrains, deposits, and environments where the primary crust and sediment parent material is basaltic in composition. The combination of Fe-Mg rich and Al-Si poor crust with aqueous environments that are locally influenced by elevated sulfur input due to their proximity to (or interaction with) volcanic activity make these sites valuable field models for detrital and authigenic mineral assemblages and the biosignatures deposited and potentially preserved.

Bottom Line: The availability of liquid water coupled with the potential longevity of such systems renders these localities prime targets for the future exploration of Martian biosignatures.This meltwater can be stored to create subglacial, englacial, and proglacial lakes, or be released as catastrophic floods and proglacial fluvial systems.Sedimentary deposits produced by the resulting fluvial-lacustrine activity are extensive, with lithologies dominated by basaltic minerals, low-temperature alteration assemblages (e.g., smectite clays, calcite), and amorphous, poorly crystalline phases (basaltic glass, palagonite, nanophase iron oxides).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: UK Centre for Astrobiology, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, UK. c.cousins@ed.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
The search for once-habitable locations on Mars is increasingly focused on environments dominated by fluvial and lacustrine processes, such as those investigated by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. The availability of liquid water coupled with the potential longevity of such systems renders these localities prime targets for the future exploration of Martian biosignatures. Fluvial-lacustrine environments associated with basaltic volcanism are highly relevant to Mars, but their terrestrial counterparts have been largely overlooked as a field analogue. Such environments are common in Iceland, where basaltic volcanism interacts with glacial ice and surface snow to produce large volumes of meltwater within an otherwise cold and dry environment. This meltwater can be stored to create subglacial, englacial, and proglacial lakes, or be released as catastrophic floods and proglacial fluvial systems. Sedimentary deposits produced by the resulting fluvial-lacustrine activity are extensive, with lithologies dominated by basaltic minerals, low-temperature alteration assemblages (e.g., smectite clays, calcite), and amorphous, poorly crystalline phases (basaltic glass, palagonite, nanophase iron oxides). This paper reviews examples of these environments, including their sedimentary deposits and microbiology, within the context of utilising these localities for future Mars analogue studies and instrument testing.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus