The Gemstone Floor of Noctis Labyrinthus
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The Gemstone Floor of Noctis Labyrinthus

September 5, 2011
The smooth light-toned deposits on the floor of Noctis Labyrinthus, a series of depressions at the westernmost end of Valles Marineris, may contain a form of hydrated silica, perhaps opal, which is a gemstone.

The opal could have formed by chemical weathering of basaltic lava flows or volcanic ash in the presence of water. Also visible in the left side of the enhanced-color subimage are sand dunes with two colors, perhaps due to dark sand covered in places by bright reddish dust, and an impact crater with dark ejecta.

Written by: Alfred McEwen

Image Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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