Abstract

Using multivariate cluster analysis, we identify six distinct geochemical provinces on Mars from the concentrations of K, Th, Fe, Si, Ca, Cl, and H2O determined by the Mars Odyssey gamma ray spectrometer. The results show that the Martian surface is dominated by basaltic rocks that vary in their abundance of incompatible (K, Th) and major elements (Fe, Si, and Ca). These chemically distinct geochemical provinces are in large, contiguous regions comprising a mixture of geologic units. The K/Th ratios are uniform among the geochemical provinces. To prevent measurable fractionation of K from Th, aqueous events must have been brief and/or the total throughput of water small. The muted weathering effects led to deposition of younger sedimentary deposits with the same compositions as older igneous units, explaining why a geochemical province may contain mapped units with the same composition but a range of ages.

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