V. Payré, K. L. Siebach, R. Dasgupta, A. Udry, E. B. Rampe, S. M. Morrison
Understanding magmatic processes is critical to understanding Mars as a system, but Curiosity’s investigation of dominantly sedimentary rocks has made it difficult to constrain igneous processes. Igneous classification of float rocks is challenging because of the following: (1) the possibility that they have been affected by sedimentary processes or weathering, and (2) grain size heterogeneity in the observed rock textures makes the small‐scale compositions measured by rover instruments unreliable for bulk classification. We avoid these ambiguities by using detrital igneous mineral chemistry to constrain models of magmatic processes in the source region for the fluvio‐deltaic Bradbury group. Mineral chemistry is obtained from X‐ray diffraction of three collected samples and a new stoichiometric and visual filtering of ~5,000 laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) spots to identify compositions of individual igneous minerals. Observed mineral chemistries are compared to those produced by MELTS thermodynamic modeling to constrain possible magmatic conditions. Fractionation of two starting primary melts derived from different extent of adiabatic decompression melting of a primitive mantle composition could result in the crystallization of all minerals observed. Crystal fractionation of a subalkaline and an alkaline magma is required to form the observed minerals. These results are consistent with the collection of alkaline and subalkaline rocks from Gale as well as clasts from the Martian meteorite Northwest Africa 7034 and paired stones. This new method for constraining magmatic processes will be of significant interest for the Mars 2020 mission, which will also investigate an ancient volcaniclastic‐sedimentary environment and will include a LIBS instrument.