October 14, 2014

Assessing the limits of the Modified Gaussian Model for remote spectroscopic studies of pyroxenes on Mars

Kanner et Al.
Icarus, Volume 187, Issue 2, p. 442-456

Summary: We investigate the ability to refine pyroxene composition and modal abundance from laboratory and remotely acquired spectra. Laboratory data including the martian meteorites, Shergotty, Zagami, MIL03346, and ALH84001 as well as additional pyroxene-rich spectra obtained from the OMEGA (Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activité) spectrometer for Mars are characterized using the Modified Gaussian Model (MGM), a spectral deconvolution method developed by Sunshine et al. [Sunshine, J.M., Pieters, C.M., Pratt, S., 1990. J. Geophys. Res. 95, 6955 6966]. We develop two sensitivity tests to assess the extent to which the MGM can consistently predict (1) pyroxene composition and (2) modal abundance for a compositionally diverse suite of pyroxene spectra. Results of the sensitivity tests indicate that the MGM can be appropriately applied to remote spectroscopic measurements of extraterrestrial surfaces and can estimate pyroxene composition and relative abundance within a derived uncertainty. Deconvolved band positions for laboratory spectra of the meteorites Shergotty and Zagami are determined within ±17 nm while remotely acquired OMEGA spectra are defined within ±50 nm. These results suggest that absolute compositions can be uniquely derived from laboratory pyroxene-rich spectra and non-uniquely derived from the remote measurements of OMEGA at this time. While relative pyroxene chemistries are not assessed from OMEGA measurements at this time, relative pyroxene abundances are estimated using a normalized band strength ratio between the low-calcium (LCP) and high-calcium (HCP) endmember components and are constrained to ±10%. The fraction of LCP in a two-pyroxene mixture is the derived value from the normalized band strength ratio, LCP/(LCP + HCP). This calculation for relative abundance is robust in the presence of up to 10 15% olivine. Deconvolution results from the OMEGA spectra indicate that the ancient terrain in the Syrtis Major region is uniquely enriched in LCP (59±10% LCP) relative to HCP while the volcanics of Syrtis Major are uniquely enriched in HCP (39±10% LCP).