Potential Influence of Perchlorate on Organic Carbon in Martian Regolith

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Christopher Oze1, Meththika S Vithanage2, Prasanna Rumesh Kumarathilaka2, Srimathie Indraratne3 and Travis W Horton1, (1)University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, (2)Institute of Fundamental Studies, Chemical and Environmental Systems Modeling Research Group, Kandy, Sri Lanka, (3)University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Perchlorate is a strong oxidizer present at elevated concentrations in surface martian regolith. Chemical and isotopic modification of potential organic carbon with perchlorate in martian regolith during H2O(l) interactions is unknown. Here we assess the relationship between martian levels of perchlorate and organic carbon present in life harbouring geologic material from Earth. These materials represent chemical (i.e., processed serpentine soils from Sri Lanka) and temperature (i.e., hydrothermal jarosite/goethite deposit from White Island, New Zealand) extremes to where life exists on Earth. Preliminary evidence demonstrates that organic carbon decreases and δ13C values are modified for ultramafic sediment in both perchlorate kinetic and incubation experiments. In hydrothermal jarosite/goethite with microbial communities present, total and organic carbon is maintained and little modification in δ13C values is apparent. These preliminary results suggest that surface hydrothermal deposits with mineralogically ‘protected’ organic carbon are preferable sites to assess the potential of life on Mars.