Jarosite – Indicator of (liquid) water on Mars


  • Named after its type locality, Barranco del Jaroso in the Sierra Almagrera (near Los Lobos, Cuevas del Almanzora, Almería, Spain)
  • In 2004 the Mars Exploration Rover – B found Jarosite on Mars. Because on Earth Jarosite is only formed in liquid water, this finding strongly indicates that Mars once possessed large amounts of liquid water.
  • Formula: KFe3(OH)6(SO4)2
  • Space group: R-3m (No. 166)
  • Crystal system: trigonal
  • Crystal class: -3m
  • Lattice parameters: a = b = 7.304 Å, c = 17.268 Å, αβ = 90°, γ = 120°

Picture: CC BY-SA 3.0 | Christian Rewitzer

Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,” J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

  • KO12 only very slightly distorted icosahedra (purple)
  • FeO6 octahedra (blue)
  • SO4 tetrahedra (yellow)
  • Oxygen (red)

For a 3D interactive version, see here:



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