Evidence for extensive olivine-rich basalt bedrock outcrops in Ganges and Eos chasmas, Mars

Christopher S. Edwards, P. R. Christensen, V. E. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Several localized outcrops of olivine-enriched bedrock have been previously identified in the Ganges and Eos Chasma area on the eastern end of Valles Marineris with the Thermal Emission Imaging System multispectral images. These outcrops form a layer in the walls of Ganges Chasma and appear to be the remnants of a once continuous unit, which was mapped over ∼100 km. In this study we further characterize the composition (forsterite content of ∼0.68), olivine abundance (10 to >15%), thermal inertia (>600 JK-1 m-2 s-1/2, consistent with in-place rocky material), vertical dimension (∼60 to ∼220 m), extent (>1100 km laterally), volume (∼9.9 × 104 km3), dip (∼0.013°NE), and continuity of this layer utilizing Thermal Emission Spectrometer hyperspectral, Thermal Emission Imaging System multispectral, and Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter elevation data. Morphologic data from high-resolution imagery display a relatively umnantled, rough, and pitted surface associated with the olivine-enriched material, consistent with thermal inertia data. Four possibilities for the origin of the olivine-enriched unit are (1) volcanism associated with tectonic rifting of the Valles Marineris system, (2) a volcaniclastic flow deposit, (3) an intrusive marie sill, or (4) a discrete episode in Martian history during which flood lavas were erupted onto the surface. The most likely origin is an eruptive event consisting of compositionally uniform flood lavas originating from a primitive mantle source region, possibly associated with the initiation of Tharsis volcanism. This unit is one of the largest continuous compositional units found on Mars and is strikingly similar to other olivine-enriched deposits identified in previous studies where compositional, morphologic, and thermophysical similarities are observed. These similarities may indicate that there was a period in early Martian history, where compositionally uniform and extensive olivine-enriched flood basalts were erupted on the Martian surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE11003
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 20 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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