Regolith of the Crater Floor Units, Jezero Crater, Mars: Textures, Composition, and Implications for Provenance

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  • Alicia Vaughan
  • Michelle E. Minitti
  • Emily L. Cardarelli
  • Jeffrey R. Johnson
  • Linda C. C. Kah
  • Paolo Pilleri
  • Melissa S. Rice
  • Mark Sephton
  • Briony H. N. Horgan
  • Roger C. Wiens
  • R. Aileen Yingst
  • Maria-Paz Zorzano Mier
  • Ryan Anderson
  • James F. Bell
  • Adrian J. Brown
  • Edward A. Cloutis
  • Agnes Cousin
  • Kenneth E. Herkenhoff
  • Elisabeth M. Hausrath
  • Alexander G. Hayes
  • Marco Merusi
  • Chase C. Million
  • Robert Sullivan
  • Sandra M. Siljestrom
  • Michael St Clair

A multi-instrument study of the regolith of Jezero crater floor units by the Perseverance rover has identified three types of regolith: fine-grained, coarse-grained, and mixed-type. Mastcam-Z, Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering, and SuperCam Remote Micro Imager were used to characterize the regolith texture, particle size, and roundedness where possible. Mastcam-Z multispectral and SuperCam laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy data were used to constrain the composition of the regolith types. Fine-grained regolith is found surrounding bedrock and boulders, comprising bedforms, and accumulating on top of rocks in erosional depressions. Spectral and chemical data show it is compositionally consistent with pyroxene and a ferric-oxide phase. Coarse-grained regolith consists of 1-2 mm well-sorted gray grains that are found concentrated around the base of boulders and bedrock, and armoring bedforms. Its chemistry and spectra indicate it is olivine-bearing, and its spatial distribution and roundedness indicate it has been transported, likely by saltation-induced creep. Coarse grains share similarities with the olivine grains observed in the S & eacute;& iacute;tah formation bedrock, making that unit a possible source for these grains. Mixed-type regolith contains fine-and coarse-grained regolith components and larger rock fragments. The rock fragments are texturally and spectrally similar to bedrock within the M & aacute;az and S & eacute;& iacute;tah formations, indicating origins by erosion from those units, although they could also be a lag deposit from erosion of an overlying unit. The fine and coarse-grained types are compared to their counterparts at other landing sites to inform global, regional, and local inputs to regolith formation within Jezero crater. The regolith characterization presented here informs the regolith sampling efforts underway by Perseverance.Plain Language Summary We used multiple instruments on the Perseverance rover to describe three populations of loose sediments found on the floor of Jezero crater by their grain sizes and chemical compositions. The smallest population has grains that are small sand-sized (80-530 mu m) and a mixture of minerals commonly found on Mars, including pyroxene that is present in local rocks and airborne dust found globally. These grains are the easiest to move by wind, so could have distal regional sources as well. Larger gray grains that are 1-2 mm in size and rounded contain olivine. These grains move along the surface, pushed by the impacts of smaller grains that are lifted by the wind. Their size and composition are very similar to olivine grains found in nearby in-place rocks, indicating that they may have a more local source. Finally, there are larger pieces of rocks that have broken down from the erosion of local in-place rocks over time and mix with the other types of grains. Loose sediments within the Jezero crater described here can be compared to loose sediments studied at other landing sites on Mars to help understand how Jezero sediments are formed and transported.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JE007437
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Planets
Issue number3
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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