Alteration history of Séítah formation rocks inferred by PIXL x-ray fluorescence, x-ray diffraction, and multispectral imaging on Mars

Science Advances

Collocated crystal sizes and mineral identities are critical for interpreting textural relationships in rocks and test- ing geological hypotheses, but it has been previously impossible to unambiguously constrain these properties using in situ instruments on Mars rovers. Here, we demonstrate that diffracted and fluoresced x-rays detected by the PIXL instrument (an x-ray fluorescence microscope on the Perseverance rover) provide information about the presence or absence of coherent crystalline domains in various minerals. X-ray analysis and multispectral imaging of rocks from the Séítah formation on the floor of Jezero crater shows that they were emplaced as coarsely crys- talline igneous phases. Olivine grains were then partially dissolved and filled by finely crystalline or amorphous secondary silicate, carbonate, sulfate, and chloride/oxychlorine minerals. These results support the hypothesis that Séítah formation rocks represent olivine cumulates altered by fluids far from chemical equilibrium at low water-rock ratios.