Rare feldspar-dominated surfaces on Mars were previously reported based on near-infrared (NIR) spectral data and were interpreted to consist of anorthosite or felsic rocks. Using thermal infrared (TIR) data over the feldspar detections with the largest areal extent in Nili Patera and Noachis Terra, we rule out felsic interpretations. Basaltic or anorthositic compositions are consistent with TIR measurements, but the geologic contexts for these regions do not support a plutonic origin. Laboratory NIR spectral measurements demonstrate that large plagioclase crystals (>~840 μm) can be detected in mixtures with as much as 50 vol % mafics, which is higher than the previously stated requirement of no more than 15% mafics. Thus, anorthositic or felsic interpretations need not be invoked for all NIR-based feldspar detections. Plagioclase-enriched basaltic eruptive products can be formed from Martian basalts through partial crystallization at the base of a thick crust, followed by low-pressure crystallization of the residual liquids.
Rogers, A. D., and H. Nekvasil (2015), Feldspathic rocks on Mars: Compositional constraints from infrared spectroscopy and possible formation mechanisms, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, doi:10.1002/2015GL063501.