Magnetic and petrologic characterization of synthetic Martian basalts and implications for the surface magnetization of Mars

Julie A. Bowles, Julia E. Hammer, Stefanie A. Brachfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A suite of synthetic Martian basalts is generated with the objective of providing fundamental material properties data for use in modeling and interpretation of mission data. We systematically evaluate the effects of major element composition, oxygen fugacity (fO2), and cooling rate on phase chemistry and magnetic mineralogy, grain size, and intensity of remanent magnetization. The range of experimental compositions and fO2 are chosen to bracket the range expected in the Martian crust; our results should therefore span the range of possible mineralogies, textures, and magnetic properties in rapidly cooled Mars crustal materials. Two starting compositions are used for the sample synthesis: (1) an Fe-rich, Al-poor composition patterned after SNC basaltic meteorites and (2) a composition based on thermal emission spectrometer (TES) data with a much lower Fe/Al ratio. The resulting magnetic phase in samples generated at the quartz-fayalite-magnetite (QFM) buffer is a spinel-structured oxide with varying amounts of Cr, Ti, Mg, and Al. Compositional differences depend on bulk composition, cooling rate, differences in crystallization sequence, and the kinetics of silicate mineral nucleation and growth. Oxide abundance and magnetic intensity are most strongly influenced by fO2, with more subtle composition and cooling rate effects. Moderately oxidizing QFM conditions result in an intense magnetization (2.3 × 10-5 Am2 kg-1 to 1.4 × 10 -2 Am2 kg-1), especially in the meteorite-derived basalts. However, an increase of magnetic grain size into the multidomain range (meteorite-type) and/or low unblocking temperatures resulting from increased Cr substitution (TES-type) may affect the long-term stability of the remanence in QFM samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE10003
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Magnetic and petrologic characterization of synthetic Martian basalts and implications for the surface magnetization of Mars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this