JGR: Source-to-Sink Terrestrial Analogs for the Paleoenvironment of Gale Crater, Mars

Michael T. Thorpe, Joel A. Hurowitz, and Kirsten L. Siebach

doi: 10.1029/2020JE006530


In the Late Noachian to Early Hesperian period, rivers transported detritus from igneous source terrains to a downstream lake within Gale crater, creating a stratified stack of fluviolacustrine rocks that is currently exposed along the slopes of Mount Sharp. Controversy exists regarding the paleoclimate that supported overland flow of liquid water at Gale crater, in large part because little is known about how chemical and mineralogical paleoclimate indicators from mafic‐rock dominated source‐to‐sink systems are translated into the rock record. Here, we compile data from basaltic terrains with varying climates on Earth in order to provide a reference frame for the conditions that may have prevailed during the formation of the sedimentary strata in Gale crater, particularly focusing on the Sheepbed and Pahrump Hills members. We calculate the chemical index of alteration for weathering profiles and fluvial sediments to better constrain the relationship between climate and chemical weathering in mafic terrains, a method that best estimates the cooler limit of climate conditions averaged over time. We also compare X‐ray diffraction patterns and mineral abundances from fluvial sediments in varying terrestrial climates and martian mudstones to better understand the influence of climate on secondary mineral assemblages in basaltic terrains. We show that the geochemistry and mineralogy of most of the fine‐grained sedimentary rocks in Gale crater display first‐order similarities with sediments generated in climates that resemble those of present‐day Iceland, while other parts of the stratigraphy indicate even colder baseline climate conditions. None of the lithologies examined at Gale crater resemble fluvial sediments or weathering profiles from warm (temperate to tropical) terrestrial climates.


Nature Astronomy: A very early origin of isotopically distinct nitrogen in inner Solar System protoplanets

Authors: Damanveer S. Grewal, Rajdeep Dasgupta, & Bernard Marty

Abstract: Understanding the origin of life-essential volatiles such as nitrogen (N) in the Solar System and beyond is critical to evaluate the potential habitability of rocky planets. Whether the inner Solar System planets accreted these volatiles from their inception or had an exogenous delivery from the outer Solar System is, however, not well understood. Using previously published data of nucleosynthetic anomalies of nickel, molybdenum, tungsten and ruthenium in iron meteorites along with their 15N/14 N ratios, here we show that the earliest formed protoplanets in the inner and outer protoplanetary disk accreted isotopically distinct N. While the Sun and Jupiter captured N from nebular gas6, concomitantly growing protoplanets in the inner and outer disk possibly sourced their N from organics and/or dust—with each reservoir having a different N isotopic composition. A distinct N isotopic signature of the inner Solar System protoplanets coupled with their rapid accretion suggests that non-nebular, isotopically processed N was ubiquitous in their growth zone between 0 and ~0.3 Myr after Solar System formation. Because the 15N/14N ratio of the bulk silicate Earth falls between that of the inner and outer Solar System reservoirs, we infer that N in the present-day rocky planets represents a mixture of both inner and outer Solar System material.


Grewal, D.S., Dasgupta, R. & Marty, B. A very early origin of isotopically distinct nitrogen in inner Solar System protoplanets. Nat Astron (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-01283-y

PLoS ONE: Stable isotope (C, N, O, and H) study of a comprehensive set of feathers from two Setophaga citrina

Stable isotope (C, N, O, and H) study of a comprehensive set of feathers from two Setophaga citrina

Samiksha Deme, Laurence Y. Yeung, Tao Sun, and Cin-Ty A. Lee, PLoS ONE 16 (2021): e0236536.


Oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes were measured on a comprehensive sampling of feathers from two spring Hooded Warblers (Setophaga citrina) in Texas to evaluate isotopic variability between feathers and during molt. Isotopic homogeneity within each bird was found across all four isotopic systems, supporting the hypothesis that molt in these neotropical migrants is fully completed on the breeding grounds. This homogeneity suggests that the isotopic composition of a single feather is may be representative of the whole songbird. However, each bird was found to have one or two outlier feathers, which could signify regrowth of lost feathers after prebasic molt.

doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0236536

RiMG: Climbing to the Top of Mount Fuji: Uniting Theory and Observations of Oxygen Triple Isotope Systematics

Laurence Y. Yeung and Justin A. Hayles

Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 86 (2021) 97-137


Are current theoretical methods sufficiently accurate to benchmark oxygen triple-isotope
geochemistry? In this review and synthesis article, we first cover basic concepts and notation relevant to oxygen triple-isotope geochemistry. Second, we examine what theory predicts for oxygen triple-isotope variability in chemical processes. Third, we examine the systematic biases that may be present in theoretical approaches, with special attention paid to first-principles electronic structure calculations. Fourth, we will consider the current limits of analytical accuracy and the complications introduced by physical effects in real systems. Finally, we revisit the triple-isotope mass dependence of carbonate acid digestion as a case study of how theory and experiment can work together to improve both each other and ultimately also our understanding of a process that is vital for the emerging area of carbonate-based paleohydrology.

doi: 10.2138/rmg.2021.86.03

EPSL: Assessing the presence of volatile-bearing mineral phases in the cratonic mantle as a possible cause of mid-lithospheric discontinuities

Authors: Sriparna Saha, Ye Peng, Rajdeep Dasgupta, Mainak Mookherjee, Karen M. Fischer

Abstract: A number of possible hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of mid-lithospheric discontinuities (MLDs), typically characterized by ∼2-6% reductions in seismic shear wave velocity (Vs) at depths of 60 km to ∼150 km in the cratonic sub-continental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). One such hypothesis is the presence of low-shear wave velocity, hydrous and carbonate mineral phases. Although, the presence of hydrous silicates and carbonates can cause a reduction in the shear wave velocity of mantle domains, the contribution of volatile metasomatism to the origins of MLDs has remained incompletely evaluated. To assess the metasomatic origin of MLDs, we compiled experimental phase assemblages, phase proportions, and phase compositions from the literature in peridotite +H2O, peridotite +CO2, and peridotite +H2O +CO2 systems at P-T conditions where hydrous silicate and/or carbonate minerals are stable. By comparing the experimental assemblages with the compiled bulk peridotite compositions for cratons, we bracket plausible proportions and compositions of hydrous silicate and carbonate mineral phases that can be expected in cratonic SCLMs. Based on the CaO and K2O contents of cratonic peridotite xenoliths and the estimated upper limit of CO2content in SCLM, ≤∼10 vol.% pargasitic amphibole, ≤∼2.1 vol.% phlogopite and ≤∼0.2 vol.% magnesite solid solution can be stable in the SCLM. We also present new elasticity data for the pargasite end member of amphibole based on first principles simulations for more accurate estimates of aggregate Vs for metasomatized domains in cratonic mantle. Using the bracketed phase compositions, phase proportions, and updated values of elastic constants for relevant mineral end members, we further calculate aggregate Vs at MLD depths for three seismic stations in the northern continental U.S. Depending on the choice of background wave speeds of unmetasomatized peridotite and the cratonic geotherm, the composition and abundance of volatile-bearing mineral phases bracketed here can explain as much as 2.01 to 3.01% reduction in Vs. While various craton formation scenarios allow formation of the amphibole and phlogopite abundances bracketed here, presence of volatile-bearing phases in an average cratonic SCLM composition cannot explain the entire range of velocity reductions observed at MLDs. Other possible velocity reduction mechanisms thus must be considered to explain the full estimated range of shear wave speed reduction at MLD depths globally.


Saha, S., Peng, Y., Dasgupta, R., Mookherjee, M. & Fischer, K. M. (2021). Assessing the presence of volatile-bearing mineral phases in the cratonic mantle as a possible cause of mid-lithospheric discontinuities. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 553, 116602. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116602

AR-MS: The Origin of Modern Atolls: Challenging Darwin’s Deeply Ingrained Theory


In 1842, Darwin identified three types of reefs: fringing reefs, which are directly attached to volcanic islands; barrier reefs, which are separated from volcanic islands by lagoons; and ring reefs, which enclose only a lagoon and are defined as atolls. Moreover, he linked these reef types through an evolutionary model in which an atoll is the logical end point of a subsiding volcanic edifice, as he was unaware of Quaternary glaciations. As an alternative, starting in the 1930s, several authors proposed the antecedent karst model; in this model, atolls formed as a direct interaction between subsidence and karst dissolution that occurred preferentially in the bank interiors rather than on their margins through exposure during glacial lowstands of sea level. Atolls then developed during deglacial reflooding of the glacial karstic morphologies by preferential stacked coral-reef growth along their margins. Here, a comprehensive new model is proposed, based on the antecedent karst model and well-established sea-level fluctuations during the last 5 million years, by demonstrating that most modern atolls from the Maldives Archipelago and from the tropical Pacific and southwest Indian Oceans are rooted on top of late Pliocene flat-topped banks. The volcanic basement, therefore, has had no influence on the late Quaternary development of these flat-topped banks into modern atolls. During the multiple glacial sea-level lowstands that intensified throughout the Quaternary, the tops of these banks were karstified; then, during each of the five mid-to-late Brunhes deglaciations, coral reoccupied their raised margins and grew vertically, keeping up with sea-level rise and creating the modern atolls.

Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Marine Science, Volume 13 is January 4, 2021.


André W. Droxler1 and Stéphan J. Jorry2

2Marine Geosciences Unit, IFREMER, 29280 Plouzané, France

GCA: Partial Melting of a Depleted Peridotite Metasomatized by a MORB-Derived Hydrous Silicate Melt–Implications for Subduction Zone Magmatism


Recent geodynamic models and geothermometers suggest that slabs in intermediate to hot subduction zone cross the water-saturated basalt solidus, indicating that hydrous silicate melts are important agents of mass transfer from slab to mantle wedge beneath arcs. Yet the effects of basaltic crust-derived hydrous melt fluxing on mantle wedge melting are poorly known. Here we present the melting phase relations of a depleted peridotite + a MORB-derived hydrous silicate melt at a melt:rock mass ratio of 0.1 and 0.05 (3.5 and 1.7 wt.% H2O, respectively) to simulate fluid-present partial melting of a depleted peridotite, which has been metasomatized by a hydrous silicate melt derived from subducting basaltic crust. Experiments were performed at 2–3 GPa and 900–1250 °C in a piston cylinder, using Au and Au75Pd25 capsules. Amphibole (7–10 wt.%) is stable up to 1000 °C at 2 and 3 GPa coexisting with an assemblage dominated by olivine and opx and with minor fractions of cpx and garnet at 3 GPa. The apparent fluid-saturated solidus of our bulk composition is located at 1000–1050 °C, coinciding with the exhaustion of amphibole at 2 and 3 GPa. Amphibole is exhausted between 0 and 5 wt.% melting at 2 and 3 GPa and dominates the melting reactions in this melting interval along with opx, generating SiO2 and Al2O3-rich, and FeO*- and MgO-poor primitive andesites under fluid-saturated conditions. The melting reactions during low-degree, fluid-saturated melting are incongruent, consuming opx and producing olivine + SiO2-rich melts and is observed over a wide range of starting compositions and pressures from this study and others. As extent of melting increases and the free fluid phase is consumed, a spectrum of basaltic andesites to basanites are produced. Comparison of experimental partial melts from this and other hydrous peridotite melting studies with natural primitive arc magmas suggests that melting of peridotites with varying bulk compositions but with 2.5 – 4.2 wt.% H2O can reproduce the major oxide spread and trends of primitive arc magmas globally. From this comparison, it is clear that differences solely in the pressure of hydrous mantle melting, where the partial melts are fluid-under saturated, can account for the first order trends observed in experimental and natural data, with differences in temperature and composition contributing to the compositional spread within these trends. The ubiquity of andesite genesis over a wide range of pressures and bulk compositions during aqueous fluid-saturated melting suggests that the relative rarity of primitive andesitic melt flux through the crust could be related to the fact that such melts are only produced at the base of the mantle wedge where temperatures are relatively low. As fluid-saturated andesitic melts ascend into the hotter core of the mantle wedge, they are likely consumed by higher-degree, fluid-undersaturated melting generating more common hydrous basaltic melts.


Lara, M. & Dasgupta, R. (2020) Partial Melting of a Depleted Peridotite Metasomatized by a MORB-Derived Hydrous Silicate Melt–Implications for Subduction Zone Magmatism. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 290: doi:10.1016/j.gca.2020.09.001

EPSL: Thermobarometry of CO2-rich, silica-undersaturated melts constrains cratonic lithosphere thinning through time in areas of kimberlitic magmatism

By Chenguang Sun and Rajdeep Dasgupta



Cratonic lithosphere is believed to have been chemically buoyant and mechanically resistant to destruction over billions of years. Yet the absence of cratonic roots at some Archean terrains casts doubt on the craton stability and longevity on a global scale. As unique mantle-derived melts at ancient continents, silica-poor, kimberlitic melts are ideal tools to constrain the temporal variation of lithosphere thickness and the processes affecting the lithosphere root. However, no reliable thermobarometer exists to date for strongly silica-undersaturated, mantle-derived melts. Here we develop a new thermobarometer for silica-poor, CO2-rich melts using high-temperature, high-pressure experimental data. Our barometer is calibrated based on a new observation of pressure-dependent variation of Al2O3 in partial melts saturated with garnet and olivine, while our thermometer is calibrated based on the well- known olivine-melt Mg-exchange. For applications to natural magmas, we also establish a correction scheme to estimate their primary melt compositions.

Applying this liquid-based thermobarometer to the estimated primary melt compositions for a global kimberlite dataset, we show that the equilibration depths between primary kimberlite melts and mantle peridotites indicate a decrease of up to ∼150 km in cratonic lithosphere thickness globally during the past ∼2 Gyr. Together with the temporal coupling between global kimberlite frequency and cold subduction flux since ∼2 Gyr ago, our results imply a causal link between lithosphere thinning and supply of CO2-rich melts enhanced by deep subduction of carbonated oceanic crusts. While hibernating at the lithosphere root, these melts chemically metasomatize and rheologically weaken the rigid lithosphere and consequently facilitate destruction through convective removal in the ambient mantle or thermo- magmatic erosion during mantle plume activities.


Sun, C. & Dasgupta, R. (2020) Thermobarometry of CO2-rich, silica-undersaturated melts constrains cratonic lithosphere thinning through time in areas of kimberlitic magmatism. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 550: 116549. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116549

JGR Planets: Constraining Ancient Magmatic Evolution on Mars Using Crystal Chemistry of Detrital Igneous Minerals in the Sedimentary Bradbury Group, Gale Crater, Mars

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.

Nature Communications: Clustering earthquake signals and background noises in continuous seismic data with unsupervised deep learning

Léonard Seydoux, Randall Balestriero, Piero Poli, Maarten de Hoop, Michel Campillo &  Richard Baraniuk



The continuously growing amount of seismic data collected worldwide is outpacing our abilities for analysis, since to date, such datasets have been analyzed in a human-expert-intensive, supervised fashion. Moreover, analyses that are conducted can be strongly biased by the standard models employed by seismologists. In response to both of these challenges, we develop a new unsupervised machine learning framework for detecting and clustering seismic signals in continuous seismic records. Our approach combines a deep scattering network and a Gaussian mixture model to cluster seismic signal segments and detect novel structures. To illustrate the power of the framework, we analyze seismic data acquired during the June 2017 Nuugaatsiaq, Greenland landslide. We demonstrate the blind detection and recovery of the repeating precursory seismicity that was recorded before the main landslide rupture, which suggests that our approach could lead to more informative forecasting of the seismic activity in seismogenic areas.

Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 3972 (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17841-x