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Polyhydrates Sulfates, Gypsum, and Fe Silicates surrounding the top of a dome in the Sisyphi Montes
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Polyhydrates Sulfates, Gypsum, and Fe Silicates surrounding the top of a dome in the Sisyphi Montes

Acquired Date: September 14, 2007
Release Date: July 1, 2019
Latitude: 63.16 S
Longitude: 18.15 E
Keywords: Volcanic Feature, Hydrated Mineral, Ices, Sulfate minerals
Parameters: BD1900R/BD1950 (H2O), BDI1000IR (Fe mineralogy), SINDEX2 (Hydrated mineral)

The Sisyphi Montes are a series of large semicircular mountains in Sisyphi Planum, a volcanic province on Mars located between the south polar terrains, Argyre, and Hellas basins. In this CRISM scene we observe polyhydrated sulfates (magenta), gypsum (blue), and crystalline Fe silicates (white/green) surrounding the top of a dome in the Sisyphi Montes. These findings strongly suggest that the volcanoes in the Sisyphi Montes were formed subglacially. Subglacial eruptions are highly habitable environments with good biosignature preservation potential. Furthermore, this implies that an ice sheet must have been present when these volcanoes erupted. Because subglacial volcanoes on Earth (common in Iceland) retain morphologic signatures of the height and thickness of the ice sheet under which they erupted, these results could be used to place constraints on the glacial history of this region.



The Sisyphi Montes are a series of large semicircular mountains in Sisyphi Planum, a volcanic province on Mars located between the south polar terrains, Argyre, and Hellas basins. In this CRISM scene we observe polyhydrated sulfates (magenta), gypsum (blue), and crystalline Fe silicates (white/green) surrounding the top of a dome in the Sisyphi Montes. These findings strongly suggest that the volcanoes in the Sisyphi Montes were formed subglacially. Subglacial eruptions are highly habitable environments with good biosignature preservation potential. Furthermore, this implies that an ice sheet must have been present when these volcanoes erupted. Because subglacial volcanoes on Earth (common in Iceland) retain morphologic signatures of the height and thickness of the ice sheet under which they erupted, these results could be used to place constraints on the glacial history of this region.

For more information, see
Ackiss, et al., (2018), Mineralogic evidence for subglacial volcanism in the Sisyphi Montes region of Mars, Icarus, Icarus 311 (2018) 357–370.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument also tracks seasonal variations in dust and ice aerosols in the Martian atmosphere, and water content in surface materials — leading to new understanding of the climate.

Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

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