January 11, 2019:


"Geochemmical Investigations into the Origins of Putative Paterae in Northwest Arabia Terra, Mars"


Augustus Bates

LSU Planetary Science Lab


Within the Northwest portion of Arabia Terra lie several semi-circular depressions, interpreted as plains-style caldera complexes. These structures could represent an ancient episode of martian super-volcanism, partly due to their unique chemical signature, but also because their location in northwest Arabia Terra could explain the presence of friable deposits in the northern lowlands. Much is still unknown concerning ancient volcanoes on Mars; the prevalence of ancient volcanic deposits contrasts with the quantity of identified ancient martian volcanoes. If these ancient volcanoes are found to resemble impact craters, it could explain why sources for these ancient volcanic deposits have yet to be identified. In order to build upon the initial geomorphological study of these putative paterae, this work utilizes  thorough geochemical analyses to determine if these paterae are consistent with super- volcanism on Mars, remnants of effusive volcanism, or simply impact basins which are prevalent on Mars. The paterae bearing region has strong enrichments in potassium and thorium, which tend to couple strongly in igneous rocks on Mars. If this enrichment was a result of igneous processes, then it could be evidence of a link to volcanism in the area’s past. Thus, the accessory enrichments in H2O, Cl and S (key volatile elements) would likely have influenced any volcanism that took place, making explosive the more likely form of volcanism.



Augustus Bates was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and has attended schools in both New Roads and Plaquemine, LA before starting his collegiate career at LSU.  He has spent 2 years abroad, in 2009 and 2011, where he and his family lived in Namibia and Rwanda for a year, respectively.  This international experience put in motion his eventual decision to follow geology as his intended career path.  While at LSU, he began to conduct research under Dr. Suniti Karunatillake, the principal investigator at the Planetary Science Lab (PSL) at LSU.  He spent 2 semesters in PSL, which culminated in his defense of his senior thesis centered around Martian paterae in Arabia Terra.  Currently, he is awaiting responses from prospective graduate schools, where he hopes to further his research on Mars and beyond with a graduate degree in planetary science.





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