Short-wave infrared reflectance investigation of sites of paleobiological interest: applications for Mars exploration

Adrian Brown*, Malcolm Walter, Thomas Cudahy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Rover missions to the rocky bodies of the Solar System and especially to Mars require light-weight, portable instruments that use minimal power, require no sample preparation, and provide suitably diagnostic mineralogical information to an Earth-based exploration team. Short-wave infrared (SWIR) spectroscopic instruments such as the Portable Infrared Mineral Analyser (PIMA, Integrated Spectronics Pty Ltd., Baulkham Hills, NSW, Australia) fulfill all these requirements. We describe an investigation of a possible Mars analogue site using a PIMA instrument. A survey was carried out on the Strelley Pool Chert, an outcrop of stromatolitic, silicified Archean carbonate and clastic succession in the Pilbara. Craton, interpreted as being modified by hydrothermal processes. The results of this study demonstrate the capability of SWIR techniques to add significantly to the geological interpretation of such hydrothermally altered outcrops. Minerals identified include dolomite, white micas such as illite-muscovite, and chlorite. In addition, the detection of pyrophyllite in a bleached and altered unit directly beneath the succession suggests acidic, sulfur-rich hydrothermal activity may have interacted with the silicified sediments of the Strelley Pool Chert.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)359-376
    Number of pages18
    JournalAstrobiology
    Volume4
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004

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