Europlanet Science Congress 2022
Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain
18 – 23 September 2022
Europlanet Science Congress 2022
Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain
18 September – 23 September 2022
EPSC Abstracts
Vol. 16, EPSC2022-116, 2022, updated on 06 Jul 2022
Europlanet Science Congress 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Tectonic and hydrothermal activity at the edge of the Borealis impact basin in Valles Marineris

Daniel Mège1, Joanna Gurgurewicz1, Frédéric Schmidt2,3, Richard A Schultz4, Sylvain Douté5, and Benoit Langlais6
Daniel Mège et al.
  • 1Space Research Centre PAS, Warsaw, Poland (
  • 2Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, GEOPS, 91405, Orsay, France
  • 3Institut Universitaire de France (IUF)
  • 4Orion Geomechanics LLC, Cypress, Texas, USA
  • 5Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, UMR CNRS 5274, France
  • 6CNRS, Nantes Univ., Angers Univ., Le Mans Univ., France

Introduction:  The edge of the pre-Noachian Borealis impact basin, thought to be the cause of the planetary dichotomy boundary [1-2], crosses the northern Valles Marineris troughs [1-3]. Intense deformation is exposed in the deepest parts of the Ophir and Hebes Chasmata, the northernmost troughs. Structural geology and mineralogical analyses motivate the tentative identification of brittle and brittle-ductile shear zones and hydrothermal activity in the Valles Marineris basement. Implications for the Borealis basin and the proto-Valles Marineris crust are examined.

Structural analysis:  Crustal right-lateral shear zones are identified in the pre-Noachian basement of Ophir and Hebes Chasmata (Figure 1). In Ophir Chasma, S-C-C' structures, indicate deformation in the brittle-ductile domain. In Hebes Chasma, megabreccia indicates brittle deformation. From scaling relationships [4-5], the shear zones are inferred to be at least hundreds of kilometers long. They do not extend to the surface nor even up into the interior layered deposits (ILD), and are therefore interpreted to affect the Valles Marineris basement only, which at this depth, is interpreted to be of pre-Noachian age.

Mineralogy: A new method of non-linear spectral unmixing derived from the LinMin algorithm [6] is implemented and applied to three pre-Noachian basement exposures in a CRISM cube in Ophir Chasma. After gas absorption removal, two groups of minerals are robustly detected (Figure 2): primary minerals of mafic rocks (olivine, hypersthene, augite, anorthite, albite), and sulfates, most of them likely of hydrothermal origin (copiapite, jarosite, szomolnokite). Anhydrite (ROI3) is not diagnostic of any particular environment. Kieserite is interpreted as transported by wind from the neighboring ILDs. S-C-C' structures constrain the granulometry of the sheared rock which, under the assumption that all the primary minerals are detected, would be olivine-gabbronorite (ROI1) or troctolite (ROI2-3). Combined structural and mineralogical analyses point to hydrothermal alteration of a mafic intrusive basement, or contamination of this basement by hydrothermal activity in the ILDs.

Relationships with the Borealis basin: The general trend of the shear zones follows the edge of the Borealis as inferred from gravity and topography [4], also of pre-Noachian age, suggesting that they may have initiated as basin ring faults and were reactivated as crustal shears. North of Valles Marineris, the radial component of the remanent magnetic field at the surface [7] shows elongated anomalies that follow the trend of the shear zones and more generally, the expected curved edge of the Borealis basin. The existence of a magnetic field (or dynamo) was coeval with formation of the planetary dichotomy boundary [8]. Two anomalies also correspond to Noachian or pre-Noachian crustal ridges in Ophir Planum, of igneous [9] or tectonic [10] origin. Mapping reveals that the ridges are fractured parallel to the magnetic anomalies, and that their topography guided a hydrologic system (Figure 3). Moreover, these fractures are parallel to a dyke swarm exposed in eastern Candor Chasma [11]. Therefore, the ridges have a volcanotectonic origin within an active hydrologic context.

Figure 1. Ophir shear zone (OSZ) and Hebes shear zone (HSZ): (a) location map showing trace of the Borealis impact basin with ±5° uncertainty (dashed area) [5]; (b) zoom on S-C-C' structures in the OSZ, and illustration of shear orientations; (c) zoom on fault megabreccia in the HSZ. HiRISE images ESP_017754_1755 and ESP_040211_1790.