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#1 2004-03-02 17:12:45

Mr_Toad
Member
From: Dallas
Registered: 2004-02-27
Posts: 3

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid7]SUMMARY:  The March 2, 2004 NASA announcement of water, sulfates, and salts continues to point to a mineralogical assemblage of standard hydrothermal and volcanic origin.  Hydrothermal waters are a typical, late stage, fractional component of almost all cooling magmas.   In my opinion, the mineralogy (revealed in NASA press releases to date), argues against a fluvial, lacustrine, or oceanic origin for the environments currently under study by Rover instruments.   Further, NASA’s March 2 announcement is consistent with my Feb 27 posting regarding current Rover evidence of basaltic and volcanic deposits (please see copied post, below).

GEOLOGICAL ISSUE: As of March 2, surface outcrops examined by Spirit and Opportunity appear to be predominantly volcanic rocks overlain by recent aeolian sediments.  Therefore, it is not news that water was a major component in Martian vulcanism.  Water is the principal mobile constituent of all rock melts, and water comprises from one to eight percent of rock magmas.  (Whenever we take our morning shower, we are bathing in a fractional constituent of the magmas that formed our terrestrial crust.)   Briny solutions rich in halides (salts) and sulfates are a typical component of hydrothermal solutions.  Further, igneous calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is a well-documented water-associated component of terrestrial igneous rocks (fueling fierce debate in the early 1900’s as “The Carbonatite Problem”). 

OPINION:  Is it appropriate for NASA scientists to persistently argue for a fluvial, lacustrine, or oceanic origin to explain a typical volcanic and hydrothermal environment?  We do not need to go to Mars to know that there is water on Mars.  Further, why does NASA not release the Rover scientific data as it is gathered, so that the public may draw its own conclusions?   Petrology teaches us the following:
1.  If volcanic rocks are found on Mars, then these rocks will almost certainly contain minerals formed by hydrothermal fluids; and
2.  Typical hydrothermal mineralogy includes halides, sulfates, and carbonates crystallized from water, as well as minerals altered by the pH extremes found in aqueous hydrothermal systems.

MINERALOGICAL ALTERATION:  March 2 press releases indicate the discovery of Jarosite on Mars, and also suggest mineralogical alteration by water.  To quote, "The second question we've tried to answer: Were these rocks altered by liquid water? We believe definitively, yes," Squyres said (CNN.com, March 2).   However, these press releases fail to explain that Jarosite is a mineral found in volcanic fumeroles.  Specifically, Jarosite; KFe3(SO4)2(OH)6; Potassium Iron Sulfate Hydroxide; a minor member of the Alunite group of sulfates.  Jarosite is noteworthy in its unusual occurrence  as concretions or mulberry-like forms known as 'moronolite’. Alunite, for which the group is named, can be formed through action of hydrothermal sulfuric acids reacting with potassium feldspars.  (Note:  I must do further research to determine if Jarosite is also a product of hydrothermal sulfuric acids, and thus comprises the evidence of "rocks altered by liquid water" indicated by NASA.)

===================================


Posted: Feb. 27 2004, 13:39
Topic: Is Rover evidence arguing against water?


I fear this will not be a popular post...

   smile

QUESTION: Do folks on this site know where the “general public” can locate more substantive scientific & mineralogical "press releases" that provide scientific data beyond what is released by NASA to the popular press and to high school students? I am interested in more specific mineralogical data that have been uncovered by Spirit & Opportunity. The Rovers have been on Mars for weeks now, grinding and analysing, so where are the details available?

REASON: As I review various articles and press releases for the current Rover mission, I find many NASA comments about "interesting", “weird”, and “surprising” features....but very limited specifics on Mars mineralogy or petrology uncovered by the current Mars Rover instruments. Various analyses and grindings have been performed for several weeks, and I have sent several emails to the Cornell/ Athena/ NASA/ JPL Contact email addresses, but have not received a reply. (However, I am sure they are quite busy to be answering lots of emails.)

OPINION: Unless I am mistaken, thus far it appears that Spirit & Opportunity have uncovered evidence that argues in favor of typical basaltic petrology, and against the presence of significant water in the regions of investigation, rather than in favor of significant water. All rock magmas possess some quantity of water, so any geologist knows without traveling to Mars that water was present in the geohistory of Mars. Indeed, water will be found on virtually ALL stony planets in the universe. However, was the quantity of Martian water adequate to generate life, and were the Martian aqueous environments favorable to the creation of life? NASA's Rover press released evidence thus far argues against it for the areas of investigation.

ROVER EVIDENCE: Specifically, the geological information listed below can be gleaned from the NASA Rover press releases as of Feb 27, 2004, and each of these argues in some way against signficant water or a sedimentary geological history in the Mars regions of investigation:

1. BASALT - Sol 1, First Rover landed in a basalt field, perhaps vesicular (basalt was immediately apparent in Rover photographs released on sol 1, as well as from subsequent analysis and core drilling).
2. OLIVINE - Presence of olivine (both in situ and in soil?), argues against significant surface water, due to olivine’s rapid erosion by water due to its disequilibrium with surface environments.
3. NO GOETHITE - Presence of crystalline hematite (Fe2O3), while simultaneously lacking evidence of an associated goethite or a gossan/ iron hat structure to indicate hydration effects of water on hematite (generally, Fe2O3 + HOH --> 2FeO(OH)). Gossans are how hematite is typically found on earth for iron mining.
4. VOLCANIC TUFF - A spheruled, layered, "salt and pepper" rock that looks very much like a typical, terrestrial volcanic tuff.
5. MAFIC VOLCANICS - General Martian geological features consistent with terrestrial mafic volcanic activity.
6. NO STRONG SEDIMENTARY/ GEOCHEMICAL EVIDENCE - No strong evidence thus far to indicate significant water-born sedimentary, evaporitic, or carbonate geochemical activity; versus mineralogical evidence that more likely points to carbonates and salts of igneous/ hydrothermal origin.
7. TYPICAL WIND-BLOWN DEPOSITS/ FEATURES - A variety of soil deposits and structures that seem to suggest wind-blown alluvial deposits (“Qal”) overlaying in situ outcrops of pyrochlastic and mafic lava flow petrology, versus deposits and structures of sedimentary origin.


===================================[/color:post_uid7]

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#2 2004-03-02 21:29:20

dickbill
Member
Registered: 2002-09-28
Posts: 749

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Actually Squyres mentioned 2 hypohesis with this early wet Mars  : either a standing water like a lake slowly evaporating and leaving behind lots of evaporites and salts crystals that were encysted in stones and later on disolved by a second watery event

OR

water percolating trough volcanic ash deposits, but where that water did come frommhe didn't say.

Your post are very informative Mr Toad, but you give the feeling that NASA doesn't play straight and hide informations, like a complot. Am I wrong ?
Do you suggest that NASA voluntarly favorizes a wet-early-Mars-suitable-for-life in order to fund her future mission more easily ?
If it's true, which I am not sure, It's just a little sin Mr Toad.
Not a big deal as long as the people really interested in Mars know the real story. Science is rarely fair anyway. There is always plenty of politic and trichery behind the pure researchers in white labcoat in their dungeon.[/color:post_uid0]

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#3 2004-03-03 00:21:42

sethmckiness
Member
From: Iowa
Registered: 2002-09-20
Posts: 230

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]

OLIVINE - Presence of olivine (both in situ and in soil?), argues against significant surface water, due to olivine’s rapid erosion by water due to its disequilibrium with surface environments.
[/quote:post_uid0]
Olivine is found on various paces on Earth in various conditions..  also, Mars has been dry for long enough that olivine could have come on the surface, post-wet.

NO GOETHITE - Presence of crystalline hematite (Fe2O3), while simultaneously lacking evidence of an associated goethite or a gossan/ iron hat structure to indicate hydration effects of water on hematite (generally, Fe2O3 + HOH --> 2FeO(OH)). Gossans are how hematite is typically found on earth for iron mining.
[/quote:post_uid0]
Is there no possible Chlroine or Salt interaction to strip off the 'Gossan'.  Never heard of a Gossan for Iron before.  Also, the majority of Iron mining I know of is Magnetite.

I am no going through all of your last points.  To me, it seems basic that there has been no water on Mars for a long time.  I will not venture a guess, but a minimal-maximal time
10 million-2 billion years.

Since wate has not been on the surface, and water is a an important component in lithification of many sedimentary rocks, you just have a lot of blown quatrenary sediment.  and maybe some tertiary conglomerate.

I don't expect to see facts out in the open until these people get published.  Thats generally how this shit works.  If they put out the raw data, and some one else published it before them, they could lose credit for it.  Be patient.  You will get access to raw data one the missions are done. 

btw, what formal geology training do you have?[/color:post_uid0]


We are only limited by our Will and our Imagination.

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#4 2004-03-03 09:45:37

Mr_Toad
Member
From: Dallas
Registered: 2004-02-27
Posts: 3

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]...since you asked...

   smile

MY GEOSCIENCE BACKGROUND:
1.  Academic - B.S. Geology / M.S Geology / M.B.A.Finance - Includes seven years full time academic studies in geology and geophysics, including over one year in field geological studies…living in a tent!  Undergraduate and graduate studies partially funded with three years teaching structural geology and field geological mapping lab courses, plus geophysical research project funding.
2.  Masters Thesis Research Topic - Field mapping and structural interpretation of polyphase deformed Precambrian metasedimentary and metaigneous terrain.
3.  Professional - Four years employment with major petroleum company Research and Development division as exploration geophysicist specializing in seismic field data acquisition and seismic data processing.

SCIENTIFIC ETHICS & NASA:  I learned enough science to ultimately learn (sadly) that most of what is published in scientific journals is junk science performed to justify academic tenure or to secure NSF grants.  However, I do not believe that NASA is funded to be in the business of junk science.  NASA is in competition with other vital research projects for major government funds.  If we are going to spend billions sending folks to Mars to collect anaerobic bacteria, then I expect NASA to justify that expense with legitimate science and not with biased conjecture and lopsided arguments that conveniently leave out half the scientific story.  Would these funds be better spent curing Cancer and HIV AIDs?  I can’t answer that.  We will only find a correct answer if we have a legitimate analysis and debate.  We will only have a legitimate debate when knowledgeable people begin to challenge what NASA tells the popular press and the American people.  I know enough science to not swallow everything I am fed by self-proclaimed scientific authorities.  I look at the evidence.  I look at the conclusions.  I ask questions.  I do my own research.  NASA has a persistent habit of taking a small amount of data and jumping to dramatic conclusions that (Surprise!) somehow always support their space travel agenda. 

GOETHITE GOSSAN STRUCTURES – Dig out the old Mineralogy book (Hurlbut & Klein) and check it out!  (BTW...that’s why NASA had hoped to find goethite in association with Martian hematite.)  And while you’re at it, have some fun questioning and researching the conclusions NASA releases to the public.    (Oh, yes!  …and about NASA’s claimed discovery of microfossil structures in an Igneous meteorite knocked off of Mars and dumped on earth....)[/color:post_uid0]

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#5 2004-03-03 10:17:29

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I have a B.A. in American History and a law degree. Everything I know about science I learned on the internet (intraweb?) plus vague memories from a high school AP chem class.  big_smile

Anyway, speaking of finding science on the internet, I ask that Mr. Toad comment on this article:

http://www.astrobio.net/news....thold=0

It appears (to my liberal arts trained eyes) that the NASA scientists have given at least some attention to the points you raise.

Example:

These were tantalizing hints, but all of these phenomena could also be explained by volcanic processes in which water played no part. To an effort to settle the question, scientists directed the rover to grind into El Capitan at two different locations, and then used its microscopic imager and APX and Mössbauer spectrometers to explore what lay below the surface. [/quote:post_uid0]

Comments?[/color:post_uid0]

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#6 2004-03-03 10:52:55

dickbill
Member
Registered: 2002-09-28
Posts: 749

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]have some fun questioning and researching the conclusions NASA releases to the public.    (Oh, yes!  …and about NASA’s claimed discovery of microfossil structures in an Igneous meteorite knocked off of Mars and dumped on earth....)[/color:post_uid0][/quote:post_uid0]
[color=#000000:post_uid0]I tell you, it's just a little sin. It's already hard to stimulate the public to justify the costs, so if you say the mineral concretions aren't fossils, where are you gonna go ?

Do you want cheap missions funded by pizza hut that crash on the surface rather than expensive one that at least have some successful achievment ?
A little bit of sensational advertissement in science and crappy results quickly published to keep the grants alive, we all know that. Scientists should not take themself too seriously, you know.[/color:post_uid0]

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#7 2004-03-03 11:20:33

Stu
Member
From: Kendal, Cumbria, England
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 318
Website

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I'm not professionally qualified to comment on this debate, I'm just a keen rock-hound amateur who's been in love with things martian since I was knee-high to a jawa, but listening to last night's press conference I was struck by how many times Steve Squyres made a great effort to stress how there were *other* possible explanations for parts of the Opportunity Outcrop story, and he was very, very careful to say that a LOT more work needs to be done to confirm once and for all the exact nature and history of this fascinating site. In fact, I thought he was sat so solidly on the fence at times during the briefing that I was worried he might be getting splinters in certain delicate areas...  :;): So I think he was being very fair given the circumstances - he was breaking the news that the "space world" had been waiting for for a loooooong time. In his shoes I'd have been tempted to jump up and shout "Yesssssss!!!!!!!"  big_smile

To be fair, I think Steve and the rest of the guys were just giving a "heads up" about the potential of the area and of the findings so far, whilst stressing the good parts. But that's not a crime. Of course NASA is going to put positive spin - as we call it here in the UK - on elements of a story which support their own agendas and goals. Apart from the major investments they've made with these rovers - financial, personal and reputations - they are also aware of the thirst out here, in the public world, for information and results. They can't do right for doing wrong - if they delay giving news, it's a cover up. If they give news as soon as they can, they're accused of jumping to conclusions. I say let's cheer them to the rooftops for an amazing success, and give them the credit they deserve. I mean, anyone who saw the look of sheer pride on Steve's face last night can't doubt how much this means to him - or how committed he is to Getting This Right.

I also think we should remember that those men and women at JPL are *explorers* at heart, maybe even explorers first and scientists second, which some people might think is wrong but I love them for it.

To be perfectly honest, I can't really comment on the hard science here, or argue about it, I have to take Steve's and the gang's word for it - and rely on the thoughtful and informed postings of others here on New Mars - to keep me straight, because the science of sediments, layering, cross-bedding, vugs etc is so far over my head that I'd need a telescope to see it. All I know is that I sat here last night, staring at a little window on my computer screen, watching and listening to a group of exhausted but happy looking JPL engineers and computer pilots telling the world that they are pretty sure they've found evidence that Opportunity's landing site was once underwater, that Mars may well, as we've all hoped and imagined, have been a warmer, wetter world with sun-dappled lakes, gentle rain and maybe even life.

I'll leave it to others to debate the science, and I'll rey on many of you to keep me informed about the pros and cons of the argument. But for now, I'm just thinking about what it would have been like to stand in that crater a billion years ago and see a glorious sunrise reflected in the lake or pool that used to be there. And if this leads to a sample return mission, and after that to a manned landing, then I'll be even happier. But as Ellie Arroway's father says in the movie and book of CONTACT...

"Small steps Ellie... small steps..."

smile[/color:post_uid0]


Stuart Atkinson

Skywatching Blog: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/Cumbrian-Sky

Astronomical poetry, including mars rover poems: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/TheVerse

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#8 2004-03-03 11:22:22

Stu
Member
From: Kendal, Cumbria, England
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 318
Website

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Do you want cheap missions funded by pizza hut that crash on the surface rather than expensive one that at least have some successful achievment ?[/color:post_uid0][/quote:post_uid0]
[color=#000000:post_uid0]I hope that wasn't a dig at Beagle 2... this is no time for gloating...  :;):[/color:post_uid0]


Stuart Atkinson

Skywatching Blog: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/Cumbrian-Sky

Astronomical poetry, including mars rover poems: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/TheVerse

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#9 2004-03-03 12:06:47

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Oliver Morton's blog on what they know and don't know.[/color:post_uid0]

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#10 2004-03-03 14:31:29

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,877
Website

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]The paper I like to quote is “A Global View of Martian Surface Compositions from MGS-TES”, Joshua L. Bandfield, Victoria E. Hamilton, Philip R. Christensen, published in Science, 3 March 2000, volume 287, pages 1626-1630. That paper had a supplemental data page that was listed as a URL in the references. To view that web page you must have a subscription to Science On-Line. If you have a subscription to the journal, you automatically get a subscription to the on-line web site. That paper described analysis of the results of the Thermal Emission Spectrometer on Mars Global Surveyor. It describes two predominant surface types, and that any particular spot is a mixture of the two. This is intuitively obvious for anyone who has looked at Mars: there are rusty-red patches and black patches. The paper described the analysis process to deconvolute the data to determine the pure constituency of each of the surface types, and gave rough categories of the minerals. However, the supplemental data page gave the particular minerals, their model-derived modes and RMS error. That means which minerals are there, what percentage, and the experimental error which determines accuracy of those percentages. These minerals included some surprises not mentioned in the paper itself.

This includes clay. Both surface types had feldspar, as expected, as well as bronzite, augite, gypsum, and dolomite. Surface type 1 also had calcite, and surface type 2 had obsidian glass. These are as expected, but the following minerals are not. Surface type 1 had 4.8% serpentine and no olivine, while surface type 2 had forsterite (a form of olivine) and no serpentine. Serpentine is formed by hydrological weathering of olivine. Surface type 1 had 9.9% illite and 2.4% kaolinite, while surface type 2 had 9.2% fe-smectite and 2.2% illite. Fe-smectite (iron smectite) is a group of clay minerals. Illite and smectite are the first clays resulting from weathering of feldspar; in time they will further weather into kaolinite. Kaolinite is formed by running water such as rivers and streams, not standing water such as a sea or lake. This implies surface type 1 is much more weathered than surface type 2. In fact, the presence of a form of olivine in surface type 2 implies no exposure to water for any amount of time (in geological terms). That means surface type 1 proves Mars had rivers and streams for millions of years, while surface type 2 proves Mars has been dry or frozen for the most recent millions of years. The fact that olivine is now a constituent of the loose regolith indicates volcanic eruptions have had time to wind erode into fine dust and mix with the rest of the mobile surface material; so Mars hasn’t had liquid surface water for many millions of years, perhaps a billion years.

This is very dramatic conclusion. A small error in the thermal spectrum or thermal momentum matching with laboratory samples can completely change the result. These results from MGS-TES need to be verified with more concrete instruments, such as those on the rovers. Scientists who publish incorrect results are ridiculed by their peers, especially if they find an unexpected result which later proves wrong. They have to double check, triple check, and check again before publishing anything.

Furthermore, they know that Mars Society amateurs like you and me are looking at the technical data. Who am I? I’m a computer programmer writing flight software for unmanned air vehicles, and developing an automated calibration and quality control system for the sensors. I’m also a wanna-be space entrepreneur. However, as a hobby I’m doing graduate level geochemical analysis, requesting data from the prime investigators of instruments on NASA probes, consulting with geology professors including the head of the geology department of my alma mater, as well as a working environmental field geologist. My guess is the geologists with Ph.D.’s whose jobs depend on publishing this stuff would rather have their name attached. If I’m right, the fact they want to do the analysis before we do is a complement; it means they think we’re capable of it. They’ll eventually publish; in the mean time I’m continuing my analysis using data from MGS, Sojourner/Pathfinder, Odyssey, and Viking. The tantalizing data from the Mössbauer spectrometer has been a great help.[/color:post_uid0]

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#11 2004-03-20 09:26:11

Tholzel
Member
From: Boston
Registered: 2004-03-20
Posts: 56

Re: NASA March 2 Announcement is not News - …it’s hydrothermal H2O & volcanics.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]QUESTION: Do folks on this site know where the “general public” can locate more substantive scientific & mineralogical "press releases" that provide scientific data beyond what is released by NASA to the popular press and to high school students? I am interested in more specific mineralogical data that have been uncovered by Spirit & Opportunity. The Rovers have been on Mars for weeks now, grinding and analysing, so where are the details available?[/color:post_uid0][/quote:post_uid0]
[color=#000000:post_uid0]This doesn't exactly answer your question, but two essays on exactly your complaint that nothing NASA has shown supports any evidence of abundant ancient liquid water on Mars.

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-wat … -00k1.html

http://users.bigpond.net.au/Nick/Mars/NH0.htm

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-wat … -00i1.html[/color:post_uid0]

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