The uranium-bearing mineral zircon is an abundant constituent of Earth’s continental crust, providing information about the age and origin of the continents and large geological features such as mountain chains and giant volcanoes. But unlike Earth, Mars’s crust is not evolved and is compositionally similar to the crust found under the Earth’s oceans, where zircon is rare. Therefore, zircon is not expected to be a common mineral on Mars.
“We were quite surprised and excited when we found so many zircons in this martian meteorite. Zircon are incredible durable crystals that can be dated and preserve information that tell us about their origins. Having access to so many zircons is like opening a time window into the geologic history of planet,” describes Professor Martin Bizzarro from the GLOBE Institute, who led the study.
The team investigated the ancient Martian meteorite NWA 7533, dubbed “Black Beauty,” which was discovered in the