Geochemistry of carbonates on Mars

Implications for climate history and nature of aqueous environments

Paul B. Niles, David C. Catling, Gilles Berger, Eric Chassefière, Bethany L. Ehlmann, Joseph R. Michalski, Richard Morris, Steven Ruff, Brad Sutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ongoing research on martian meteorites and a new set of observations of carbonate minerals provided by an unprecedented series of robotic missions to Mars in the past 15 years help define new constraints on the history of martian climate with important crosscutting themes including: the CO2 budget of Mars, the role of Mg-, Fe-rich fluids on Mars, and the interplay between carbonate formation and acidity. Carbonate minerals have now been identified in a wide range of localities on Mars as well as in several martian meteorites. The martian meteorites contain carbonates in low abundances (<1 vol.%) and with a wide range of chemistries. Carbonates have also been identified by remote sensing instruments on orbiting spacecraft in several surface locations as well as in low concentrations (2-5 wt.%) in the martian dust. The Spirit rover also identified an outcrop with 16 to 34 wt.% carbonate material in the Columbia Hills of Gusev Crater that strongly resembled the composition of carbonate found in martian meteorite ALH 84001. Finally, the Phoenix lander identified concentrations of 3-6 wt.% carbonate in the soils of the northern plains. The carbonates discovered to date do not clearly indicate the past presence of a dense Noachian atmosphere, but instead suggest localized hydrothermal aqueous environments with limited water availability that existed primarily in the early to mid-Noachian followed by low levels of carbonate formation from thin films of transient water from the late Noachian to the present. The prevalence of carbonate along with evidence for active carbonate precipitation suggests that a global acidic chemistry is unlikely and a more complex relationship between acidity and carbonate formation is present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-328
Number of pages28
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Volume174
Issue number1-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

Fingerprint

geochemistry
mars
climate
Mars
carbonates
histories
carbonate
history
SNC meteorites
Martian meteorite
acidity
minerals
Allan Hills meteorite
chemistry
Phoenix (AZ)
Columbia (Orbiter)
outcrops
robotics
mineral
plains

Keywords

  • Acidity
  • Atmosphere
  • Carbonate
  • Climate
  • CO
  • Mars
  • Meteorites
  • Spectroscopy
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Niles, P. B., Catling, D. C., Berger, G., Chassefière, E., Ehlmann, B. L., Michalski, J. R., ... Sutter, B. (2013). Geochemistry of carbonates on Mars: Implications for climate history and nature of aqueous environments. Space Science Reviews, 174(1-4), 301-328. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-012-9940-y

Geochemistry of carbonates on Mars : Implications for climate history and nature of aqueous environments. / Niles, Paul B.; Catling, David C.; Berger, Gilles; Chassefière, Eric; Ehlmann, Bethany L.; Michalski, Joseph R.; Morris, Richard; Ruff, Steven; Sutter, Brad.

In: Space Science Reviews, Vol. 174, No. 1-4, 01.01.2013, p. 301-328.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Niles, PB, Catling, DC, Berger, G, Chassefière, E, Ehlmann, BL, Michalski, JR, Morris, R, Ruff, S & Sutter, B 2013, 'Geochemistry of carbonates on Mars: Implications for climate history and nature of aqueous environments', Space Science Reviews, vol. 174, no. 1-4, pp. 301-328. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-012-9940-y
Niles PB, Catling DC, Berger G, Chassefière E, Ehlmann BL, Michalski JR et al. Geochemistry of carbonates on Mars: Implications for climate history and nature of aqueous environments. Space Science Reviews. 2013 Jan 1;174(1-4):301-328. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-012-9940-y
Niles, Paul B. ; Catling, David C. ; Berger, Gilles ; Chassefière, Eric ; Ehlmann, Bethany L. ; Michalski, Joseph R. ; Morris, Richard ; Ruff, Steven ; Sutter, Brad. / Geochemistry of carbonates on Mars : Implications for climate history and nature of aqueous environments. In: Space Science Reviews. 2013 ; Vol. 174, No. 1-4. pp. 301-328.
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