Hydrous carbonates on Mars?: Evidence from Mariner 6/7 infrared spectrometer and ground‐based telescopic spectra

Journal of Geophysical Research
By: , and 



Absorption features at 2.28 and 5.4 μm identified in Mariner 6/7 infrared spectrometer and terrestrial telescopic spectra are consistent with the spectra of hydrous magnesium carbonates such as hydromagnesite and artinite. Spectral characteristics of these hydrous carbonates are different from those of the anhydrous carbonates, as the former do not have the strong spectral features typically associated with anhydrous carbonates such as calcite and siderite. Theoretical mixing indicates that, depending on the type of hydrous carbonate, 10–20 wt % can be incorporated into the regolith without contradicting the spectral observations or the Viking x ray fluorescence chemical analysis. Hydrous carbonates form as weathering products of mafic minerals in the presence of H2O and CO2, even in the Antarctic. Their formation as evaporite minerals from either original magmas or hydrothermally altered rocks is consistent with the Martian environment, provided liquid water is or has been at least transiently present. On Earth, formation of hydrous Mg carbonates is associated with the production of amorphous iron oxides, which is consistent with both the environment and the inferred surface mineralogy of Mars. These minerals are about 60 wt % H2O, CO3, and OH; if they are abundant everywhere at the 10% level, then about 6% of the surface weight could be volatiles bound in this type of mineral. Although the stability of hydrous carbonates in a Martian environment is uncertain, there may be kinetic factors inhibiting the dehydration of these minerals, which may persist metastably in the current environment. Although the spectroscopic evidence for anhydrous carbonates is scant, the possible presence of hydrous carbonates provides an appealing mechanism for the existence of carbonates on Mars.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrous carbonates on Mars?: Evidence from Mariner 6/7 infrared spectrometer and ground‐based telescopic spectra
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research
DOI 10.1029/94JE01090
Volume 99
Issue E7
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description 17 p.
First page 14659
Last page 14675
Other Geospatial Mars
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