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Keywords:

  • Mars;
  • crust;
  • basalt;
  • andesite;
  • weathering;
  • thermal emission spectroscopy

[1] Spectral interpretation that silicic rocks are widespread on Mars implies that Earth's differentiated crust is not unique. Evaluation of observations bearing on the composition of the Martian crust (Martian meteorite petrology and a possible crustal assimilant, analysis of Mars Pathfinder rocks, composition of Martian fines, interpretation of spacecraft thermal emission spectra, and inferred crustal densities) indicates that the crust can be either basalt plus andesite or basalt plus weathering products. New calculated chemical compositions for Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) global surface units indicate that surface type 1 has basaltic andesite composition and surface type 2 has the composition of andesite. If these materials represent volcanic rocks, their calc-alkaline compositions on a FeO*/MgO versus silica diagram suggest formation by hydrous melting and fractional crystallization. On Earth, this petrogenesis requires subduction, and it may suggest an early period of plate tectonics on Mars. However, anorogenic production of andesite might have been possible if the primitive Martian mantle was wet. Alternatively, chemical weathering diagrams suggest that surface type 2 materials could have formed by partial weathering of surface type 1 rocks, leading to depletion in soluble cations and mobility of silica. A weathered crust model is consistent with the occurrence of surface type 2 materials as sediments in a depocenter and with the alpha proton X-ray spectrometer (APXS) analysis of excess oxygen suggesting weathering rinds on Pathfinder rocks. If surface type 1 materials are also weathered or mixed with weathered materials, this might eliminate the need for hydrous melting, consistent with a relatively dry Martian mantle without tectonics.