The Curiosity Rover landed in a lithologically and geochemically diverse region of Mars. We present a recommended rock classification framework based on terrestrial schemes, and adapted for the imaging and analytical capabilities of MSL as well as for rock types distinctive to Mars (e.g., high Fe sediments). After interpreting rock origin from textures, i.e., sedimentary (clastic, bedded), igneous (porphyritic, glassy), or unknown, the overall classification procedure (Fig 1) involves: (1) the characterization of rock type according to grain size and texture; (2) the assignment of geochemical modifiers according to Figs 3 and 4; and if applicable, in depth study of (3) mineralogy and (4) geologic/stratigraphic context. Sedimentary rock types are assigned by measuring grains in the best available resolution image (Table 1) and classifying according to the coarsest resolvable grains as conglomerate/breccia, (coarse, medium, or fine) sandstone, silt-stone, or mudstone. If grains are not resolvable in MAHLI images, grains in the rock are assumed to be silt sized or smaller than surface dust particles. Rocks with low color contrast contrast between grains (e.g., Dismal Lakes, sol 304) are classified according to minimum size of apparent grains from surface roughness or shadows outlining apparent grains. Igneous rocks are described as intrusive or extrusive depending on crystal size and fabric. Igneous textures may be described as granular, porphyritic, phaneritic, aphyric, or glassy depending on crystal size. Further descriptors may include terms such as vesicular or cumulate textures.
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 16-20 Mar. 2015; The Woodlands, TX; United States