"Jake-M," the first rock analyzed by the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer instrument on the Curiosity rover, differs substantially in chemical composition from other known martian igneous rocks: It is alkaline (>15% normative nepheline) and relatively fractionated. Jake-M is compositionally similar to terrestrial mugearites, a rock type typically found at ocean islands and continental rifts. By analogy with these comparable terrestrial rocks, Jake-M could have been produced by extensive fractional crystallization of a primary alkaline or transitional magma at elevated pressure, with or without elevated water contents. The discovery of Jake-M suggests that alkaline magmas may be more abundant on Mars than on Earth and that Curiosity could encounter even more fractionated alkaline rocks (for example, phonolites and trachytes).
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