Stratigraphy of hydrated sulfates in the sedimentary deposits of aram chaos, mars

Kimberly A. Lichtenberg, Raymond E. Arvidson, Richard V. Morris, Scott L. Murchie, Janice L. Bishop, David Fernandez Remolar, Timothy D. Glotch, Eldar Noe Dobrea, John F.Mustard, Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna, Leah H. Roach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Sedimentary deposits within the 280 km wide crater containing Aram Chaos (∼3°N, 339°E) have been differentially eroded by wind to expose a stratigraphic column 900-1000 m thick that unconformably overlies the chaos bedrock. A detailed stratigraphic and mineralogical description of the deposits is presented based on data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, Context Imager, and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. Two sedimentary units overlie the basement chaos material representing the original plains fill in Aram Crater: the first and oldest is composed of (1) a 50-75 m thick dark-toned basal unit containing ferric hydroxysulfate intercalated with monohydrated-sulfate-bearing materials, (2) a 75-100 m thick light-toned unit with monohydrated sulfates, and (3) a 175-350 m thick light-toned resistant capping unit with nanophase ferric oxides and monohydrated sulfates. After a period of wind erosion, these deposits were partially and unconformably covered by the second sedimentary unit, a 75-100 m thick, discontinuous dark-toned unit containing crystalline hematite and polyhydrated sulfate material. These sedimentary deposits were formed by evaporite deposition during at least two distinct rising groundwater episodes fed by regional-scale recharge. Later groundwater event(s) formed the polyhydrated materials, indicating that environmental conditions changed to a higher water-to-rock ratio. Wind has continued to shape the landscape after the last wetting event to produce the features and exposures observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE00D17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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