Continued Evidence for Input of Chlorine into the Martian Crust from Degassing of Chlorine-Rich Martian Magmas with Implications for Potential Habitability

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 3:10 PM
Justin Filiberto, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL, United States and Juliane Gross, Am. Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, United States
The chlorine-concentration (or salinity) of a fluid affects the potential for that fluid to be a habitable environment, with most known terrestrial organisms preferring low salinity fluids [1, 2]. The Martian crust (as analyzed by the Gamma Ray Spectrometer) is chlorine-rich with up to 0.8 wt% Cl; while the MER rovers Spirit and Opportunity as well as MSL Curiosity have analyzed rocks with even higher chlorine concentrations [e.g., 3]. This suggests that any potential fluid flowing through the crust would have high chlorine concentrations and therefore high salinity. Here we investigate the bulk and mineral chemistry of the SNC meteorites to constrain the pre-eruptive chlorine concentrations of Martian magmas as the potential source of chlorine in the Martian crust.

Bulk SNC meteorites have Cl concentrations similar to terrestrial Mid Ocean Ridge Basalts which would suggest a Cl content of the Martian interior similar to that of the Earth [4]. However, based on Cl/La ratios, the Martian interior actually has 2-3 times more Cl than the Earth [5]. This is also reflected in the composition of Cl-rich minerals within the SNC meteorites [5, 6] and suggests that the pre-eruptive parental magmas to the SNC meteorites were Cl-rich. Eruption and degassing of such Cl-rich magmas would have delivered Cl to the Martian crust, thereby increasing the salinity of any fluids within the crust.

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