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The Jurassic Todilto Formation of NW New Mexico and SW Colorado, USA, has utility as an analog of Martian flood evaporites. The Todilto Formation is a concentrically and vertically zoned carbonate (calcite with minor late dolomite) to sulfate (gypsum) evaporite deposit that developed over a short time span (104–105 yr) after rapid flooding of the vast dune field of the Entrada Formation. Within the limits of the very different hydrogeologic environments of Mars and Earth, the Todilto setting of short-lived brine evolution in a largely eolian environment, with terminal formation of a salt hydrate common to both planets (gypsum), provides a useful field area for descriptive and petrogenetic studies of evaporite evolution and interaction with a porous, sandy substrate. The Todilto Formation has an added feature of interest in its association with bituminous materials that have likely microbial precursors, providing a brine-microorganism association that may represent a potential setting for primitive life as might be found on Mars.

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