Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Clay Studies Alter View Of Early Mars Environment

Date:
July 26, 2007
Source:
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Summary:
A study of the thermodynamics of clays found on Mars suggests that little carbon dioxide could have been present during their formation, which contradicts a popular theory of the early Martian atmosphere and will send researchers looking for other explanations for clay formation.

A study of the thermodynamics of clays found on Mars suggests that little carbon dioxide could have been present during their formation, which contradicts a popular theory of the early Martian atmosphere and will send researchers looking for other explanations for clay formation.

Related Articles


Vincent Chevrier of the University of Arkansas and Franηois Poulet and Jean-Pierre Bibring of the Universitι Paris-Sud in Orsay, France, reported their findings in the journal Nature.

Gullies, valleys and clay formations found on Mars seem to point to a wet past for the Red Planet. Almost all clays formed on earth do so in the presence of water or under extremely humid conditions. These clay remnants of ancient Mars had previously led scientists to hypothesize that the earliest era on the planet, the Noachian period, had a carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere that created a warm, wet surface with liquid water -- ideal for creating clays.

Chevrier used thermodynamic calculations to examine possible historic conditions on the planet. These calculations look at the equilibrium conditions of the clay deposits on Mars with respect to different relevant other mineral phases -- carbonates, sulfates, iron oxides -- to extrapolate the surface environment at the time of their formation. He made the assumption that the clays would form on the surface of Mars in the presence of liquid water as they do on Earth.

In a carbon-dioxide-rich environment, clay formation would be accompanied by carbonate formation, but current studies of Mars have found no such compounds. Chevrier’s calculations show that, given current conditions, the carbon dioxide pressure would have been low in the Noachian atmosphere.

“If you had a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide, you should have abundant carbonates,” Chevrier said. “So far no one has seen even a grain of carbonate.”

Despite this evidence that carbon dioxide did not provide a warm, wet atmosphere, it is possible that other greenhouse gases, such as methane, helped create the ancient conditions that shaped modern-day Mars. It also is possible that impacts generated heat and energy that could have warmed the Mars surface, creating liquid water. However, both of these hypotheses present their own enigmas: If methane was present, where did it go? And how do you relate impacts to the formation of clays? On Mars, thousands of square kilometers are covered by clay deposits up to 100 meters thick – not the hallmark of a single impact event.

Another possibility is that some of these chemicals – the carbonates and the methane – may be present deep below the surface of Mars. To address the question of the underground presence of these materials will require a Mars rover with a probe. Until then, the history of the early Martian atmosphere remains an enigma.

“Thermodynamics can give you the conditions, but not the process,” Chevrier said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "Clay Studies Alter View Of Early Mars Environment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070721212322.htm>.
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. (2007, July 26). Clay Studies Alter View Of Early Mars Environment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070721212322.htm
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "Clay Studies Alter View Of Early Mars Environment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070721212322.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Video Shows Stars If They Were as Close to Earth as Sun

Video Shows Stars If They Were as Close to Earth as Sun

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) — Russia&apos;s space agency created a video that shows what our sky would look like with different star if they were as close as our sun. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) walks us through the cool video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) — Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) — NASA is remembering 17 astronauts who were killed in the line of duty and dozens more who have died since the agency&apos;s beginning. A remembrance ceremony was held Thursday at NASA&apos;s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) — Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins