ANR MarsPrime project : Mars Primitive Environment

Orbital and in-situ detections of hydrous minerals on Mars, especially phyllosilicates, suggest a warmer and wetter climate existed in the past, but exact physico-chemical surface conditions (temperature, oxidation state, atmospheric composition and pressure) remain debated. In particular, the relative role of weathering versus hydrothermal alteration in forming phyllosilicates remains unclear and no definitive answer has emerged from a decade of local and global studies. The search for oxidizing or reducing environments and the state of iron is a major aspect of investigations of Early Mars surface conditions. Although oxidizing conditions have been locally identified from abundant iron oxides both from orbital data and in the new meteorite breccia, it remains unclear how such conditions were able to create the observed amount of phyllosilicates. In addition, new findings from the Curiosity rover and from meteorite analyses show that the Martian crust is more felsic and alkali-rich than previously expected. This finding is a change from the previous paradigm for the surface of Mars as a basalt-dominated world and opens new perspectives for the understanding of alteration products. Our project will aim to take a multi-disciplinary approach, connecting researchers who usually work in separated groups in planetary science in France: instrumental teams at the forefront of data analyses (both orbital and in situ), specialists of chemical and mineralogical analyses of Martian meteorite analyses and mineralogists/petrologists with terrestrial backgrounds


 pia19839 galecrater main 800px

The development of experimental simulations of alteration with a well-defined set of environmental conditions and starting materials addressing the question of the alteration products of ancient crustal material under an anoxic CO2 atmosphere is central to the proposal. Indeed, the conditions on Mars are far from the usual conditions on Earth, and there is a lack of knowledge regarding alteration under an anoxic CO2 atmosphere, especially the role of oxidants such as H2O2 or perchlorates, and reducing gas species such as H2. Analyses of relevant martian meteorites, especially the recently found regolith breccias containing phyllosilicates and iron oxides, will provide support for interpretation of the experimental analyses and will help to improve our knowledge of Mars early environment. Further analyses of orbital and in situ data (Curiosity rover) will help to constrain the composition of early crust material, and the alteration conditions, focusing on the identification of weathering as opposed to higher-T alteration. Our project will build a consortium of well-established researchers in their respective fields of expertise.


The project coordinator is Nicolas Mangold, CNRS Researcher.

logolpg   logo cerege 300px   Logo IRAP 300px   260px Logo mnhn   anr 150px   IAS 200px   logo IPAG   logo cirimat 300px   LogoGET 300px


Recruitment made by the project :

* Fabien Baron, Ph D in Earth Science in Poitiers. Specialis of phyllosilicates in IR and Raman spectroscopy. recruited in 2017 for 30 monthes for experimental alteration in lab.

* Maxime Pineau, master in Sciences de la Terre à Nantes, Ph D Candidate. Analysis of opaline silica and aluminuous phyllosilicates regards to their conditions of formaiton on Earth and Mars.


A. Gaudin , E. Dehouck, O. Grauby, N. Mangold (2018) Formation of clay minerals on Mars: insights from long-term experimental weathering of olivine, Icarus,

Rapin, W., B. Chauviré, T.S.J. Gabriel, A.C. McAdam, B.L. Ehlmann, C. Hardgrove, -Y. Meslin, B. Rondeau, E. Dehouck, H.B. Franz, N. Mangold, S.J. Chipera, R.C. Wiens, J. Frydenvang, S. Schröder, In situ analysis of opal in Gale crater, Mars, JGR-Planets, in press.

Hewins, R. H.; Zanda, B.; Humayun, M.; Nemchin, A.; Lorand, J.-P.; Pont, S.; Deldicque, D.; Bellucci, J. J.; Beck, P.; Leroux, H.; Marinova, M.; Remusat, L.; Göpel, C.; Lewin, E.; Grange, M.; Kennedy, A.; Whitehouse, M. J., 2017. Regolith Breccia Northwest Africa 7533: Mineralogy And Petrology With Implications For Early Mars, Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52, 89-124.

Mangold et al., Chemical alteration in Murray mudstones, Gale crater, Submitted at Icarus.

 Conference abstract

Mangold, N., J. Carter, F. Baron, E. Dehouck, A. Gaudin, D. Loizeau, and F. Poulet (2018) Importance And Diversity Of Geological Settings Of Aluminum-Rich Clay Minerals On Mars, Clay Society Meeting 55th, USA.

Carter, J., J.-P. Bibring, N. Mangold, 2018. The Clay Story Of Ancient Mars, An Update, 55th Annual Meeting of Clay Mineral Society, Champaign, USA.

Pineau M. Le Deit L. Rondeau B. Chauviré B. Carter J. Mangold, N. (2018). Investigation of Opals on Mars Using CRISM Data and Terrestrial Analogs, LPSC 49th, Houston, USA.

Baron, F.; Petit, S.; Gaudin, A.; Mangold, N. (2017) Interpretation of Smectite VIS-NIR Spectra from Synthetic Smectites, Fourth International Conference on Early Mars, Flagstaff, Arizona. LPI Contribution No. 2014, 2017, id.3019

Mangold N. et al. (2017) Open-System Weathering at Gale Crater from the Chemistry of Mudstones Analyzed by the Curiosity Rover, Fourth International Conference on Early Mars, Flagstaff, Arizona. LPI Contribution No. 2014, 2017, id.3013

Forni, O.; Meslin, P.-Y.; L'Haridon, J.; Rapin, W.; Nachon, M.; Newsom, H.; Mangold, N.; Gasnault, O.; Anderson, D. E.; Anderson, R. B.; Blaney, D. L.; Clegg, S. M.; Cousin, A.; Dehouck,; Johnson, J. R.; Lanza, N. L.; Lasue, J.; Maurice, S.; Wiens, R. C., 2017. Detection of Fluorine-Rich Phases, Phosphates, and Halite in the Stimson-Murray Units, Gale Crater, Mars, 48th LPSCt The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 1964, id.1838

Mangold, N. et al. (2017) Aqueous Alteration in Mt. Sharp Mudstones Evidenced by ChemCam, Curiosity, 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held 20-24 March 2017, at The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 1964, id.1894

 Rapin, W.; Chauviré, B.; Meslin, P.-Y.; Maurice, S.; Rondeau, B.; Mangold, N.; Dehouck, E.; Gasnault, O.; Cousin, A.; Forni, O.; Frydenvang, J.; Wiens, R. C.; Schröder, S.; Ehlmann, B. L., 2017. Water Content of Opaline Silica at Gale Crater, 48th LPSC, The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 1964, id.2038

 Meslin, P.-Y.; Gasda, P.; L'Haridon, J.; Forni, O.; Lanza, N.; Lamm, S.; Johnson, J. R.; Wiens, R. C.; Thompson, L.; Rapin, W.; Gasnault, O.; Cousin, A.; Mangold, N.; Dehouck, E.; Maurice, S.; Frydenvang, J.; Lasue, 2018. J.Detection of Hydrous Manganese and Iron Oxides with Variable Phosphorus and Magnesium Contents in the Lacustrine Sediments of the Murray Formation, Gale, Mars, 49th LPSC, The Woodlands, Texas LPI Contribution No. 2083, id.14