Opal Deposits Near Valles Marineris

Opal Deposits Near Valles Marineris

WhiteClouds Builds 3D Marscapes and Canvas Prints

Did you know we make

8K Mars Canvas Prints



3D Marscapes

3D Marscapes

The Hidden Jewels of Mars: Opulent Opals Near the Colossal Valles Marineris!

Hold onto your seats, space aficionados!  A dozen years ago, Mars was a compositional enigma.  Then came a flurry of missions equipped with cutting-edge thermal and near-infrared spectrometers that forever changed our understanding of the Red Planet!

Enter CRISM on the MRO, the most advanced of these mineral-hunting instruments.  Why did it target this area?  Because it’s buzzing with exotic minerals!  Nestled near the awe-inspiring cliffs of Valles Marineris, scientists discovered light-toned, layered deposits estimated to be a staggering 3 billion years old.  These ancient rocks boast sulfates akin to Earth’s jarosite and enigmatic silica resembling amorphous opal, which can be a reservoir for up to 20% water!

Picture this: Minerals crystallizing from acidic fluids at chilly temperatures or shaped by the watery alteration of basalt.  HiRISE images reveal that these layers were likely drenched in water once upon a time, showcasing inverted channels and other morphological marvels.

Opal Deposits Near Valles Marineris - HiRise-ESP_022620_1690 Opal Deposits Near Valles Marineris – HiRise-ESP_022620_1690


The HiRISE snapshot unveils even more: banded bedrock hiding beneath younger dunes, bright white bands alternating with slightly reddish layers.  These luminous stripes could very well be concentrated opal, while the darker bands might host deposits of brown jarosite.  Talk about a Martian masterpiece painted by the hands of geological time and elemental chemistry!

While these deposits may not produce gemstone-quality opal, they’re still invaluable. Earthly opals and cherts are famous for preserving fossils—imagine what Martian opals might conceal!  Even a microscopic sample from this dazzling scene could be worth its weight in gold—or should we say, opal?  

Check out our 3D Mars Learning Center for more information on Mars.   You can also learn more at: NASA Mars Exploration.

More About Mars

Contact us today to learn more about our 3D services and how we can help you achieve your goals. 

Get a Free Quote