EVA #6 was by far the most exhausting of our first 7 sols, but it was definitely worth it (more details in the EVA report). Our excursion into our little “Noctis Labyrinthus”, which we named “Boilermaker Canyon”, brought us into a quite different geological setting than the Morrison formation around the hab. The region is deeply eroded by Muddy creek and its seasonal tributaries, and forms deep canyons and high-walled mesas. The lowest strata belong to the Entrada Sandstone, dating to the middle Jurassic (180-159 million years ago). The location was slightly further away from the Sundance Sea, therefore it is characterized by an impressive sequence of thin layers of sandstone, at times interrupted by mudstone collars. Green colored layers are indicative of wet conditions that occurred in swampy, stagnant environment (reducing environment). The predominant feature that distinguishes this formation to the far Northeast of the habitat is the presence of layers of finely grained salts, indicators of a shift from wet to dry conditions, in which shallow water produced evaporites. In addition, the whole thickness of the formation is crossed by a large number of clastic dikes, most of which constituted by evaporites.
The EVA crew collected samples of the salts and the sandstone both on the way down and at the bottom of the canyon.
Though the route is rough, I hope many geologists will take advantage of the opportunity to study this breathtaking region, which was to date unexplored by any MDRS crew.
Crew Geologist – Boilers2Mars
Mars Desert Research Station