Quantifying Martian Stratigraphy: Chronology, Composition, and Morphology

February 23-25, 2009
Queen Mary, Long Beach - California

Final Report

Workshop Overview:

Recent exploration of the surface of Mars has revolutionized our understanding of its evolution and current processes. Aqueous, aeolian and volcanic stratigraphic sequences have been recognized; phases that precipitated from or reacted with liquid water have been identified; we have created high-resolution images of stratified deposits of ice and dust at high latitude; and real-time geomorphologic changes have been observed. These discoveries are transforming our view of geological processes on Mars, particularly those involving near-surface water.

These discoveries present both an opportunity and a challenge: Locked within these stratigraphic sequences and distinctive surface materials is a record of surface water, volcanism, geomorphologic evolution and climate likely spanning much of the history of Mars. But, just as for past studies of the stratigraphy of the Earth and Moon, that record can only be read through measurements constraining process, rate and, most importantly, age.

This workshop was hosted by the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences of the California Institute of Technology and is supported by the Keck Institute for Space Studies.

Workshop Participants:

  • Oded Aharonson - Caltech
  • Scott Anderson - SWRI
  • David Beaty - JPL
  • Will Brinckerhoff - NASA GSFC
  • Max Coleman - JPL
  • Pan Conrad - JPL
  • Nicolas Dauphas - Enrico Fermi Institute
  • Bill Dietrich - UC Berkeley
  • John Eiler - Caltech
  • Ken Farley - Caltech
  • James Farquhar - Univ. of Maryland, College Park
  • Sabrina Feldman - JPL
  • John Grotzinger - Caltech
  • Paula Grunthaner - JPL
  • Samad Hayati - JPL
  • Larry Heaman - University of Alberta
  • Mike Hecht - JPL
  • Joel Hurowitz - JPL
  • Gary Kocurek - University of Texas, Austin
  • Mike Lamb - University of Texas, Austin
  • Kevin Lewis - Caltech
  • Paul Mahaffy - NASA GSFC
  • Scott McLennan - SUNY at Stony Brook
  • Dan McCleese - JPL
  • Hap McSween - University of Tennessee
  • Ralph Milliken - JPL
  • Doug Ming - NASA JSC
  • Dick Morris - NASA JSC
  • Jack Mustard - Brown University
  • Issa Nesnas - JPL
  • Larry Nyquist - NASA JSC
  • Dimitri Papanastassiou - JPL
  • Taylor Perron - MIT
  • Dave Rubin - USGS
  • Heather Steele - Caltech
  • Ed Stolper - Caltech
  • Tim Swindle - University of Arizona
  • Greg Vane - JPL
  • Paolo Vasconcelos - University of Queensland
  • Ben Weiss - MIT
  • Rainer Wieler - ETH Zurich

Workshop Presentations

John Grotzinger

Mars bedrock stratigraphy

Paula Grunthaner

History of past geochronology instrument development projects aimed at lander missions on Mars

Samad Hayati

Roving, sample acquisition and sample manipulation: existing and plausible capabilities

Hap Mcsween

Lander mission science

Larry Nyquist

Overview of modern geochronology

Taylor Perron

Mars polar stratigraphy

Gregg Vane

Relationship of KISS-Mars to NASA program goals

Tim Swindle

K-Ar dating