I. PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS IN 2012-13
Michalski, J. and J.E. Bleacher (in revision), Supervolcanoes within and ancient volcanic province in Arabia Terra, Mars, Science.
Michalski, J. R., P.Niles, J. Cuadros, and A. M. Baldridge (in review), Multiple working hypotheses for the formation of compositional stratigraphy on Mars: Insights from the Mawrth Vallis region, Icarus.
Michalski, J. R., P. B. Niles, and T. D. Glotch (in review), Metasomatism of basalt by crustal brines in the martian subsurface: insights from Miocene rocks in western Arizona, Geophys. Res. Lett.
Michalski, J., J. Cuadros, P. Niles, J. Parnell, A. D. Rogers and S. Wright, (2013), Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere, Nature Geoscience. 10.1038/ngeo1706.
Gaillard, F., J. Michalski, G. Berger, S. McLennan, and B. Scaillet (2012), Geochemical reservoirs and timing of sulphur cycling on Mars, Space Science Reviews, DOI 10.1007/s11214-012-9947-4
Ehlmann, B. E., G. Berger, N. Mangold, J. Michalski, D. C. Catling, S. W. Ruff, E. Chassefière, and F. Poulet (2012), Geochemical Consequences of Widespread Clay Mineral Formation in Mars’ Ancient Crust, Space Science Reviews, DOI 10.1007/s11214-012-9930-0
Niles, P.B., D. C. Catling, G. Berger, E. Chassefière, B. L. Ehlmann, J. Michalski, R. Morris, S. W. Ruff, and B. Sutter (2012), Geochemistry of Carbonates on Mars: Implications for Climate History and Nature of Aqueous Environments, Space Science Reviews. DOI 10.1007/s11214-012-9940-y
Golombek, M. and 23 others including J. Michalski (2012), Selection of the Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site, Space Science Reviews, 170 (1-4), 641-737.
Michalski, J. and P. B. Niles (2012). An atmospheric origin of Martian Interior Layered Deposits (ILDs): Links to climate change and the global sulfur cycle. Geology, 40 (5), 419-422.
ABSTRACTS PRESENTED AT CONFERENCES
Michalski, J. R., T. D. Glotch, L. Friedlander, D. L. Bish, T. G. Sharp, and M. Darby Dyar (2012), Effects of shock metamorphism on clay mineralogy: Implications for remote sensing of martian clays, AGU Fall Meeting.
Michalski, J. R., A.D. Rogers, P. Niles, S.P. Wright, and J. Cuadros (2012), Evidence for lacustrine carbonates and clays in McLaughlin Crater, Mars, GSA National Meeting, Charlotte, NC, Paper No. 60-9.
Michalski, J., S.P. Wright, and J. Bleacher (2012), Discovery of a possible large caldera in northwestern Arabia Terra: Implications for the identification of ancient volcanic source regions on Mars, 43rd LPSC.
Michalski, J., A.D. Rogers, S.P. Wright, P. B. Niles, and J. Cuadros (2012), Sporadic groundwater upwelling in deep Martian craters: Evidence for lacustrine clays and carbonates, 43rd LPSC.
Sharp, T.G. J.R Michalski, M.D. Dyar, D.L. Bish, L. R. Friedlander, and T. Glotch (2012), Effects of shock metamorpism on phyllosilicate structures and spectroscopy, 43rd LPSC, #2806.
Friedlander, L.R., T. Glotch, J.R. Michalski, T.G. Sharp, M.D. Dyar, and D.L. Bish (2012), Spectroscopic studies of nontronite after impacts at 3 pressures, 43rd LPSC, #2520.
Niles, P.B. and J. Michalski (2012), Origin and evolution of sediments in Gale Crater through ice-hosted processes, 43rd LPSC, # 2575.
II. REPORT ON RESEARCH
During the past year, my research efforts have been focused on four major areas:
1) Exploring the origin of sulfate deposits on Mars
2) Investigating the possibility of a deep biosphere on Mars
3) Discovery of ancient supervolcanoes volcanoes in Arabia Terra, Mars
4) Investigating the effects of shock metamorphism on clay mineralogy
Sulfate on Mars:
Layered sulfate deposits on Mars are generally agreed to be important recorders of ancient aqueous alteration on Mars. However, the processes that led to their formation are not well understood. Most researchers agree that the sulfur originated through volcanic outgassing, but the mechanism by which it is concentrated into layered sedimentary processes is highly disputed. The most widely accepted model is one in which sulfur interacts with upwelling groundwater, resulting in the cementation of eolian deposits. An alternative model suggests that the low water-rock ratios implied by the mineralogy and chemistry of sulfate deposits can be better explained by acidic weathering, top-down weathering processes associated with acidic ice deposits. This model does not require groundwater for the formation of sulfate deposits. Instead, it suggests that the layered sulfates trace the locations of ancient deposits of ash or dust that were weathered in-situ in a cold, water-limited environment.
During the past year, I have spent a significant fraction of my time contributing to a review paper that discusses the distribution and origin of sulfates on Mars (Gaillard et al., 2012). In 2012, I have also published two first author papers addressing the top-down versus bottom up hypotheses for sulfate formation, and submitted another, which is under review. One paper (Michalski and Niles, Geology, 2012) addresses mass balance concerns about the bottom up model as it applies to sulfates in the Valles Marineris. Another paper (Michalski et al., Nature Geo, 2013) evaluates evidence for groundwater upwelling in general, and finds that there is evidence for such a process forming lacustrine carbonates, but the paper also challenges the link between sulfate formation and groundwater activity. A third paper (Michalski et al., Icarus, in review) provides a detailed analysis of the stratigraphic relations among sulfates and clays in the Mawrth Vallis area, concluding that the whole package of clays and sulfates formed together as a sedimentary residue or weathered ash deposit, neither of which could have involved significant groundwater.
Investigating the possibility of a deep biosphere on Mars
The notion that Mars could have had, or currently have, a deep microbial biosphere is not a new idea, but new observations have shown that this idea is definitely valid and in fact, the subsurface is by far the most habitable part of the planet. In 2012, I led a synthesis paper on this topic, which was published recently in Nature Geoscience. This paper summarized evidence for aqueous activity at depth on Mars, and discusses sources of nutrients, energy and carbon that could support simple life in the subsurface. It also emphasizes that, if we wish to search for microbial life on the surface of Mars, we are probably assuming that evolution proceeded more rapidly on Mars than Earth because Mars was already extremely inhospitable by the time that major evolutionary events occurred on Earth (development of photosynthesis, cell nuclei, and complex life all occurred in the Late Hesperian or Amazonian equivalent time).
Discovery of ancient supervolcanoes on Mars
Approximately 70% of the surface of Mars has been resurfaced by volcanic activity, but the sources of most of those volcanic materials are generally not recognized. One reason might be because the sources have been removed by erosion. But another intriguing possibility is that we simply don’t know exactly what we are looking for – in other words, perhaps ancient Martian volcanoes have a fundamentally different form from the well-recognized forms of the younger shield volcanoes. During a survey of impact craters in the ancient crust of Mars, I found a number of depressions in Arabia Terra, one of the most ancient parts of Mars, that are almost certainly not impact craters. Many of them are associated with collapse features, lava flows, friable deposits that are candidate pyroclastics, and sagging features that can be attributed to removal of magma from depth. Along with a colleague from NASA GSFC, I have submitted a manuscript to Science (Michalski and Bleacher, in revision) proposing that some collapse features in Arabia Terra are actually the remnants of ancient supervolcanoes that could have produced significant amounts of lava, ash, water vapor and sulfur on ancient Mars. In fact, modeling of the deposition of ash from those potential sources shows that these features could be a missing link required to explain the origin of some layered, fine-grained deposits at low latitudes on Mars. These include the sulfate-rich layered terrains investigated by the Opportunity Rover and the fretted terrains, which have been enigmatic since their discovery by Mariner 9. Analysis and evaluation is ongoing.
Investigating the effects of shock metamorphism on clay mineralogy
Since 2010, I have led a project aimed to evaluate the effects of shock metamorphism on the mineralogy of clay minerals. In 2012, we completed the shock experiments on a matrix of 5 minerals, run at 6 shock pressures each. These materials are being analyzed by visible, near infrared, thermal emission, attenuated total reflectance, Raman, and Mossbauer spectroscopy, as well as by x-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and thermal gravimetry. Analysis is ongoing, and two manuscripts describing the effects of shock on nontronite and kaolinite are in preparation.
III. FUNDING STATUS
Current (0.86 FTE):
NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, 2009-2013, $85,000/yr
Local-, regional-, and global-scale analysis of sulfate-bearing deposits on Mars: testing hypotheses of formation.
PI: Joseph Michalski, 0.28 FTE
NASA Mars Fundamental Research Program, 2010-2013, $130,000/yr
Effects of shock metamorphism on infrared spectra of phyllosilicates
PI: Joseph Michalski, 0.17 FTE
NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, 2011-2014, $125,000/yr
Exploring geologic processes in the deeper martian crust through compositional studies of impact craters
PI: Joseph Michalski, 0.33 FTE
NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, 2011-2014, $90,000/yr
Investigations of Aeolian Transverse Ridges on Mars
PI: Daniel Berman, Planetary Science Institute
Co-I: Joseph Michalski, 0.08 FTE
NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, 2013-2017, $95, 000/yr
A fresh perspective on ancient martian volcanism: Investigation of new types of highland volcanic constructs in Arabia Terra and beyond
PI: Joseph Michalski, 0.42 FTE
V. PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
I am focusing my efforts on developing a wider breadth of research interests in Mars science in 2013, including projects in volcanology and impact geology, in addition to my usual research interests in mineralogy and geochemistry.
VI. SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY
Reviewer for Icarus, JGR, Science, Geochemica et Cosmochimic Acta, and Planetary and Space Science in 2012. I am organizing a special session on clays in the Solar System for the European Planetary Science Conference to be held in London in 2013.
VII. TEACHING ACTIVITIES AND PUBLIC LECTURES
I delivered an invited lecture at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in June, 2012 titled “The Possibility of a Deep Martian Biosphere”
I wrote an article for the quarterly magazine of the Natural History Museum (Evolve) titled “Curiosity Knows No Boundaries”
In 2012, I did an “Ask a Geologist” activity with New Scientist magazine.
I contributed a guest lecture for the West London Astronomical Society in early 2013.