Aqueous origins of bright salt deposits on Ceres

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    22 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Bright materials have been reported in association with impact craters on Ceres. The abundant Na2CO3 and some ammonium salts, NH4HCO3 and/or NH4Cl, were detected in bright deposits within Occator crater with Dawn near infrared spectroscopy. The composition and appearance of the salts suggest their aqueous mobilization and emplacement after formation of the crater. Here we consider origins of the bright deposits through calculation of speciation in the H–C–N–O–Na–Cl water-salt type system constrained by the mass balance of observed salts. Calculations of chemical equilibria show that initial solutions had the pH of ∼10. The temperature and salinity of solutions could have not exceeded ∼273 K and ∼100 g per kg H2O, respectively. Freezing models reveal an early precipitation of Na2CO3·10H2O followed by minor NaHCO3. Ammonium salts precipitate near eutectic from brines enriched in NH4 +, Cl and Na+. A late-stage precipitation of NaCl·2H2O is modeled for solution compositions with added NaCl. Calculated eutectics are above 247 K. The apparently unabundant ammonium and chloride salts in Occator's deposits imply a rapid emplacement without a compositional evolution of solution. Salty ice grains could have deposited from post-impact ballistic plumes formed through low-pressure boiling of subsurface solutions. Hydrated and ammonium salts are unstable at maximum temperatures of Ceres’ surface and could decompose through space weathering. Occator's ice-free salt deposits formed through a post-depositional sublimation of ice followed by dehydration of Na2CO3·10H2O and NaHCO3 to Na2CO3. In other regions, excavated and exposed bright materials could be salts initially deposited from plumes and accumulated at depth via post-impact boiling. The lack of detection of sulfates and an elevated carbonate/chloride ratio in Ceres’ materials suggest an involvement of compounds abundant in the outer solar system.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)289-304
    Number of pages16
    JournalIcarus
    Volume296
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

    Fingerprint

    deposits
    salts
    salt
    ammonium
    crater
    craters
    ice
    eutectics
    boiling
    emplacement
    plumes
    plume
    chloride
    chlorides
    space weathering
    brines
    sublimation
    salt water
    mass balance
    infrared spectroscopy

    Keywords

    • Asteroids
    • Composition
    • Mineralogy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science

    Cite this

    Aqueous origins of bright salt deposits on Ceres. / Zolotov, Mikhail.

    In: Icarus, Vol. 296, 01.11.2017, p. 289-304.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    abstract = "Bright materials have been reported in association with impact craters on Ceres. The abundant Na2CO3 and some ammonium salts, NH4HCO3 and/or NH4Cl, were detected in bright deposits within Occator crater with Dawn near infrared spectroscopy. The composition and appearance of the salts suggest their aqueous mobilization and emplacement after formation of the crater. Here we consider origins of the bright deposits through calculation of speciation in the H–C–N–O–Na–Cl water-salt type system constrained by the mass balance of observed salts. Calculations of chemical equilibria show that initial solutions had the pH of ∼10. The temperature and salinity of solutions could have not exceeded ∼273 K and ∼100 g per kg H2O, respectively. Freezing models reveal an early precipitation of Na2CO3·10H2O followed by minor NaHCO3. Ammonium salts precipitate near eutectic from brines enriched in NH4 +, Cl− and Na+. A late-stage precipitation of NaCl·2H2O is modeled for solution compositions with added NaCl. Calculated eutectics are above 247 K. The apparently unabundant ammonium and chloride salts in Occator's deposits imply a rapid emplacement without a compositional evolution of solution. Salty ice grains could have deposited from post-impact ballistic plumes formed through low-pressure boiling of subsurface solutions. Hydrated and ammonium salts are unstable at maximum temperatures of Ceres’ surface and could decompose through space weathering. Occator's ice-free salt deposits formed through a post-depositional sublimation of ice followed by dehydration of Na2CO3·10H2O and NaHCO3 to Na2CO3. In other regions, excavated and exposed bright materials could be salts initially deposited from plumes and accumulated at depth via post-impact boiling. The lack of detection of sulfates and an elevated carbonate/chloride ratio in Ceres’ materials suggest an involvement of compounds abundant in the outer solar system.",
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