In 2016, the rover Curiosity found a mineral on Mars called tridimite in Gale's crater, the nature of its appearance, and the Red Planet was perplexed by scientists, and now planetologists from Rice University, the Johnson Space Center of NASA and the California Institute of Technology have discovered the mystery.
Tridimith is a high-temperature form of a low-pressure quartz that is extremely rare on Earth, and how its concentrated piece ended up in a crater that was unknown.
Crater Gale was chosen as the landing site for Curiosity because of the possibility that there was liquid water in the region at one time, and as a result, the janitor found evidence that confirmed -- it really was a lake a billion years ago.
"The discovery of a tridimit in Argillite in Gale's crater, one of the most amazing discoveries made by the Muriosity Maroon in 10 years of Mars exploration," said Kirsten Sibah of Rice University, co-author of a study published online in Earth and Planet Science Letters. "The Tridemite is usually associated with quartz, explosive, evolving volcanic systems on Earth. But we found it at the bottom of an ancient lake on Mars, where most volcanoes are very primitive."
Once again, Argillite is a solid species, a product of dehydration, compression and recrystalization of clay that occurred during diagenesis and epigenesis.
In a new study, scientists began by reassessing the data for each of the recorded tridimites found on Earth, and they also reviewed volcanic materials derived from the Mars volcanic model and re-examined sediment from Lake Gale's crater.
The planetists then came up with a new scenario that was consistent with all the data: the Martian magma was in a cell under the volcano longer than usual, subject to a process of partial cooling called fractional crystallization until additional silicon appeared. As a result of a powerful eruption, the volcano released ashes containing additional silicon in the form of tridimit, to Lake Gale crater and surrounding rivers. Water helped to split the ashes as a result of natural weathering processes, and water helped to sort out the minerals generated by weathering.