The 949th meeting of the
Mineralogical Society
Southern California

October Meeting

The Mineralogy of Mars

presented by

Ellen Leask

Friday, October 13th, 2017, at 7:30

We meet at

Pasadena City college

Building E, Lecture Hall (room 220)
1570 E. Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, California.

About us…

The Mineralogical Society of Southern California is dedicated to the dissemination of a general knowledge of the mineralogical and related earth sciences through the study and collecting of mineral specimens. Organized in 1931, it is the oldest mineralogical society in the western United States.
The MSSC is a scientific non-profit organization that actively supports the Pasadena City College Geology Department, its associated Dana Club,, and the Field Science Scholarship Fund. Support is also given to the San Bernardino County Museum of Natural History and Mindat.
The MSSC is affiliated with the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies and American Federation of Mineralogical Societies.

About the Program:  The Mineralogy of Mars
Ellen Leask

Mars is a fascinating planet, geologically speaking — and near enough to be able to send generations of satellites and rovers, without being obscured by thick clouds like our other neighbour, Venus. On Mars, we see familiar evidence of volcanoes, rivers, glaciers, thick sedimentary packages, lake beds, and sand dunes. But today, there are no rivers, or lakes, or oceans, and one of the biggest questions we have is: what happened to the water, and what does that mean for Mars’ potential habitability? One way we investigate this question is by studying Mars’ mineralogy — we use remote sensing data from many different spacecraft to map the distribution of minerals across Mars’ surface, and interpret what it might mean about the history of water on Mars. For example, we know that clays (kaolinites, iron- and magnesium-rich smectites) are the result of weathering minerals like plagioclase feldspar in the presence of water, whereas salts (gypsum, jarosite, alunite, magnesite and more) are usually precipitated out of briny waters that range in acidity. Where we see unaltered igneous minerals (mostly pyroxene and olivine), we know that there has not been enough water and/or time for alteration to occur. These minerals and others are identified from space using remote sensing spectroscopic techniques, and verified by rovers on the surface where possible.

Our speaker, Ellen Leask, is a graduate student working on a PhD in planetary geology at Caltech, exploring the history of Mars through mineralogy and spectroscopy. Hailing from the Great White North, she completed a B.Sc. in Earth Science at McGill (Montreal, Quebec) and spent 2 years working as an exploration geologist in oil and gas in Calgary, Alberta before seeking sunnier climes. She counts herself very fortunate to have found a career path that involves her lifelong interests of rock collecting, playing in the dirt, dinosaurs (tangentially), and space. 

Upcoming Events
  • November -Chuck Howser – Flight
  • December-Eric Scerri – to be announced
  • January 2018-Annual Banquet, speaker TBA
  • Board Meeting December 3rd at the Carter residence

The MSSC is pleased to offer:

X-Dana Mineral Spreadsheet