Scott M. McLennan

  Office: ESS 252    
  E-mail Address:  scott.mclennan "at"

  B.Sc., University of Western Ontario, 1975
  M.Sc., University of Western Ontario, 1977
  Ph.D., Australian National University, 1981
  Research Fellow, Australian National University, 1981-1986
  Faculty member at Stony Brook since 1987

  Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, 1989, 1994
  Visiting Scientist, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, 1994
  Non-Resident Affiliate, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2002-2005
  Visiting Professor of Geochemistry, CaliforniaInstitute of Technology, 2008

Preserved within sedimentary rocks is a record of planetary history. At any time sediments are providing a sampling of the exposed crust. Using sedimentary compositions, it is possible to evaluate the tectonic, climatic and geographic conditions under which a sedimentary rock was deposited. Since sediments are present throughout much of the geological histories of Earth and Mars, it is possible to trace the evolution of the surfaces of these planets. For Mars, no sedimentary materials are yet available for laboratory analysis and accordingly, an alternative approach to studying the Martian sedimentary rock cycle is through laboratory experiments that simulate sedimentary conditions on Mars.

The interests of Professor McLennan lie in evaluating the evolution of planetary crusts and surficial processes using the chemical composition of sedimentary rocks and laboratory experiments that simulate a variety of sedimentary processes. It is now clear that there have been active sedimentary environments operating on Mars, especially early in its history. Recently, Professor McLennan has been involved with evaluating the chemical and mineralogical composition of Martian surface materials in terms of sedimentary provenance, sedimentary processes, and crustal evolution.

Recent research projects include the following:

1. Mars Exploration Rovers and Mars Odyssey Mission Support and Research

Professor McLennan is a member of the science team for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover mission (Spirit and Opportunity). His role is to support mission planning and operations and to carry out research using the most recently returned data from Mars. Professor McLennan was also a participating scientist on the 2001 Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer instrument until that instrument stopped collecting useful data in 2008. He has supervised a number student and post-doctoral collaborators on these missions.

2. Sedimentary Geochemistry on Mars

Chemical analyses of surface rocks and soils returned during the Viking, Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity and Phoenix missions coupled with mineralogical and chemical data from a variety of orbital missions, provide important constraints on the geological history of Mars. Professor McLennan is currently funded through the NASA Mars Data Analysis Program to evaluate these results in terms of crustal evolution and the various sedimentary processes that may have operated at the Martian surface during its history.

3. Surficial Processes on Mars: Experimental Approaches

Recent data from the Mars rovers and orbital missions indicate that a variety of unusual evaporite minerals may have been important surface deposits over much of the geological history of Mars. Some of these evaporites may have been influenced by post-depositional (diagenetic) processes, such as oxidation and mineral transformations related to groundwater activity. It is also likely that photochemical processes influenced the chemistry, especially for the halogen elements (e.g., Cl, Br). Evaporative, diagenetic and photchemical processes can be experimentally simulated in the laboratory. Professor McLennan is funded through the NASA Mars Fundamental Research Program to perform a series of experiments that simulate potential Martian surficial processes and thus provide useful tests to the various models that have been proposed.

4. Geochemical Evolution of Planetary Crusts

Using sedimentary rock major and trace element and radiogenic isotope compositions, Professor McLennan continues to work with long-time collaborator S. Ross Taylor (Australian National University) to evaluate the chemical evolution of Earth's continental crust and the crusts of other planetary bodies. This research resulted in a recently published book (with S. R. Taylor), Planetary Crusts: Their Composition, Origin, and Evolution (Cambridge), which won the Geoscience Information Society's 2010 Award for Best Reference Work.

Selected Publications

McLennan, S. M. (2011) Geochemistry of sedimentary processes on Mars. In: J. P. Grotzinger and R. E. Milliken (eds.) Mars Sedimentology, SEPM Spec. Publ. (in press).

Hahn, B. C., McLennan, S. M. and Klein, E. C. (2011) Martian surface heat production and crustal heat flow from Mars Odyssey gamma-ray spectrometry. Geophys. Res. Lett. 38, L14203, doi:10.1029/2011GL047345.

Tosca, N. J., McLennan, S. M., Lamb, M. P. and Grotzinger, J. P. (2011) Physicochemical properties of concentrated Martian surface waters. J. Geophys. Res., 116, E05004, doi:10.1029/2010JE003700.

Karunatillake, S., McLennan, S. and Herkenhoff, K. (2010) Regional and grain size influences on the geochemistry of soil at Gusev Crater, Mars. J. Geophys. Res., 115, E00F04, doi:10.1029/2010JE003637.

Taylor, G. J., Boynton, G. J., McLennan, S. M. and Martel, L. M. V. (2010) K and Cl concentrations on the Martain surface determined by the Mars Odyssey gamma ray spectrometer: Implications for bulk halogen abundances in Mars. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L12204, doi:10.1029/2010GL043528.

King, P. L. and McLennan, S. M. (2010) Sulfur on Mars. Elements, 6, 107-112.

Taylor, S. R. and McLennan, S. M. (2009) Planetary Crusts: Their Composition, Origin, and Evolution. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge) 378pp.

Karunatillake, S., Wray, J. J., Squyres, S. W., Taylor, G. J., Gasnault, O., McLennan, S. M. and Boynton, W., Maarry, M. R. E. and Dohm, J. M. (2009) Chemically striking regions on Mars and Stealth revisited. J. Geophys. Res. 114, E12001, doi:10.1029/2008JE03303.

Tosca, N. J. and McLennan, S. M. (2009) Experimental constraints on the evaporation of partially oxidized acid-sulfate waters at the martian surface. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 73, 1205-1222.

Tosca, N. J., Knoll, A. H. and McLennan, S. M. (2008) Water activity and the challenge for life on early Mars. Science, 320, 1204-1207.

McLennan, S. M. and Grotzinger, J. P. (2008) The sedimentary rock cycle of Mars. In: J. F. Bell III (ed.) The Martian Surface: Composition, Mineralogy, and Physical Properties. Cambridge Univ. Press (Cambridge), pp. 541-577.

Tosca, N. J., McLennan, S. M., Dyar, M. D., Sklute, E. C. and Michel, F. M. (2008) Fe oxidation processes at Meridiani Planum and implications for secondary Fe mineralogy on Mars. J. Geophys. Res.,113, E05005, doi:10.1029/2007JE003019.

Hahn, B. C., McLennan, S. M., Taylor, G. J., Boynton, W. V. and 9 others (2007) Mars Odyssey gamma-ray spectrometer elemental abundances and apparent relative surface age: Implications for martian crustal evolution. J. Geophys. Res., 112, E03S11, doi:10.1029/2006JE002821.

Hurowitz, J. A. and McLennan, S. M. (2007) A ~3.5 Ga record of water-limited, acidic conditions on Mars. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 260, 432-443.

McLennan, S. M., Taylor, S. R. and Hemming, S. R. (2006) Composition, differentiation, and evolution of continental crust: Constraints from sedimentary rocks and heat flow. In: M. Brown and T. Rushmer, eds. Evolution and Differentiation of the Continental Crust. Cambridge Univ. Press, pp. 92-134.

Tosca, N. J. and McLennan, S. M. (2006) Chemical divides and evaporite assemblages on Mars. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 241, 21-31.

McLennan, S. M., Bell III, J. F., Calvin, W. and 29 others (2005) Provenance and diagenesis of the evaporite-bearing Burns formation, Meridiani Planum, Mars. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 240, 95-121.

Tosca, N. J., McLennan, S. M. et al. (2005) Geochemical modeling of evaporation processes on Mars: Insight from the sedimentary record at Meridiani Planum. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 240, 122-148.

Hurowitz, J. A., McLennan, S. M., Tosca, N. J., Arvidson, R. E., Michalski, J. R., Ming, D. W., Schöder, C. and Squyres, S. W. (2005) In-situ and experimental evidence for acidic weathering on Mars. J. Geophys. Res. 111, E02S19, doi:10.1029/2005JE002515.

Tosca, N. J., McLennan, S. M., Lindsley, D. H. and Schoonen, M. A. A. (2004) Acid-sulfate weathering of synthetic Martian basalt: The acid fog model revisited. J. Geophys. Res., 109, E05003, doi:10.1029/2003JE002218.

Squyres, S. W., Grotzinger, J. P., Arvidson, R. E., Bell III, J. F., Christensen, P. R., Clark, B. C., Crisp, J. A., Farrand, W. H., Herkenhoff, K. E., Johnson, J. R., Klingelhöfer, G., Knoll, A. H., McLennan, S. M. and 5 others (2004) In-situ evidence for an ancient aqueous environment on Mars. Science, 306, 1709-1714.

McLennan, S. M. (2003) Sedimentary silica on Mars. Geology, 31, 315-318.

Hemming, S. R. and McLennan, S. M. (2001) Pb isotope compositions of modern deep sea turbidites. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 184, 489-503.

McLennan, S. M. (2001) Crustal heat production and the thermal evolution of Mars. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28, 4019-4022.

McLennan, S. M., Bock, B., Compston, W., Hemming, S. R. and McDaniel, D. K. (2001) Detrital zircon geochronology of Taconian and Acadian foreland sedimentary rocks in New England. J. Sed. Res., 71, 305-317.

McLennan, S. M. (2000) Chemical composition of Martian soil and rock: Complex mixing and sedimentary transport. Geophys. Res. Lett., 27, 1335-1338.

Lev, S. M., McLennan, S. M. and Hanson, G. N. (1999) Mineralogic controls on REE mobility during black-shale diagenesis. J. Sed. Res., 69, 1071-1082.

Taylor, S. R. and McLennan, S. M. (1995) The geochemical evolution of the continental crust. Rev. Geophys. , 33, 241-265.

Hemming, S. R., McLennan, S. M. and Hanson, G. N. (1994) Lead isotopes as a provenance tool for quartz: Examples from plutons and quartzite, northeastern Minnesota. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 58,4455-4464.

McLennan, S. M., Hemming, S., McDaniel, D. K. and Hanson, G. N. (1993) Geochemical approaches to sedimentation, provenance and tectonics. In: M. J. Johnsson and A. Basu (Eds.) Processes Controlling the Composition of Clastic Sediments. Geol. Soc. Amer. Spec. Paper 284, 21-40.

McLennan, S.M., Taylor, S.R., McCulloch, M.T. and Maynard, J.B. (1990) Geochemical and Nd-Sr isotopic composition of deep sea turbidites: Crustal evolution and plate tectonic associations. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 54, 2015-2050.

McLennan, S.M. (1989) Rare earth elements in sedimentary rocks: Influence of provenance and sedimentary processes. Rev. Mineral. 21, 169-200.

Taylor, S. R. and McLennan, S. M. (1985). The Continental Crust: Its Composition and Evolution. Blackwell (Oxford), 312pp.

 Externally Funded Research

"Sedimentary Petrology at the MER Sites": NASA/JPL Mars Exploration Rover Participating Scientist Program (2002-2014)

"Experimental Approaches to Evaluating the Sedimentary Geochemistry of Halogens on Mars": NASA Mars Fundamental Research Program (2011-2015)

"Geochemical Investigations at Meridiani Planum and Gusev Crater": NASA Mars Data Analysis Program (2011-2015)

Recent Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows

Yuyan (Sara) Zhao, "Experimental Constraints on Br-Cl Partitioning Behavior During Sedimentary Processes on Mars", Ph.D. (in progress).

Dr. Suniti Karunatillake (Ph.D., Cornell), Post-doctoral Fellow 2008-2011 (Assistant Professor, Rider University).

Lauren Beavon, "Trace Element Mobility During Acid Alteration of Martian Basalts", M.S. (2010)

Brian Hahn, "The Chemical Composition and Evolution of the Martian Upper Crust and Near Surface Environment", Ph.D., 2009 (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Tennessee).

Nicholas J. Tosca, "The Formation and Stability of Saline Minerals at the Martian Surface", Ph.D., 2007 (Lecturer; St. Andrews University)

Joel A. Hurowitz, "Weathering Processes and Soil Geochemistry on Mars", Ph.D., 2006 (Research Scientist; Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

Shannon Arlaukas, "Fe-Ti Oxide Reactivity: Dissolution, Alteration, and Magnetic Significance", M.S. (2006)


News & Announcements 

Geology Open Night  - Professor Dan Davis will be delivering a lecture entitled "The Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011:  What Have We Learned?"  on Friday, 02/27/15 at 7:30pm in ESS 001

Dr. Robert Lander, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Distinguished Lecturer, will be delivering a lecture entitled "Model the Rock!  Using Diagenesis Simulation for Rock Property Prediction" on Friday, 03/06/15 at 12:00pm in the Hanson Seminar Room (ESS 123).

Geosciences Seminars

Geosciences Department Newsletter


Melissa Sims chosen to introduce Secretary of Energy at NSLS-II Dedication

Celebrating Robert Cooper Liebermann

Professor Joel Hurowitz named Deputy PI for Mars 2020 Rover Instrument

PhD Student Yuyan (Sara) Zhao selected for Prestigious Dwornik Award

Professor Timothy Glotch to lead NASA funded research team

Professor Martin Schoonen named Chairman of the Environmental Sciences Department at BNL

Professors John Parise and Artem Oganov pursue Materials Genome Initiative

Professor Deanne Rogers finds evidence for past groundwater on Mars

Professor Robert Liebermann accepts Edward A. Flinn Award

Professor Scott McLennan selected for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Team

Professor Timothy Glotch receives NSF Career Award

Geosciences PhD Francis McCubbin receives Presidential Early Career Award

Professor Scott McLennan on NASA team that finds new evidence for water at Mars crater

Geoscience Researchers Develop Numerical Model to Better Forecast Forces Behind Earthquakes 

Geoscience Professor Don Weidner selected to receive Inge Lehman Medal

Geoscience researchers find that natural minerals disinfect drinking water

Professor Dan Davis publishes 4th edition of "Turn Left at Orion"

Stony Brook PhD and Faculty Advisor Show that the Moon Isn't as Dry as Previously Thought

The Department welcomes its new faculty member, Deanne Rogers

Jerome Varriale, Geosciences major, Named URECA Researcher of the Month  


Department of Geosciences - Earth and Space Science Building, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2100  Phone: (631) 632-8200