Fluid inclusion studies of chemosynthetic carbonates: Strategy for seeking life on Mars

John Parnell, A. Mazzini, C. Honghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fluid inclusions in minerals hold the potential to provide important data on the chemistry of the ambient fluids during mineral precipitation. Especially interesting to astrobiologists are inclusions in low-temperature minerals that may have been precipitated in the presence of microorganisms. We demonstrate that it is possible to obtain data from inclusions in chemosynthetic carbonates that precipitated, by the oxidation of organic carbon around methane-bearing seepages. Chemosynthetic carbonates have been identified as a target rock for astrobiological exploration. Other surficial rock types identified as targets for astrobiological exploration include hydrothermal deposits, speleothems, stromatolites, tufas, and evaporites, each of which can contain fluid inclusions. Fracture systems below impact craters would also contain precipitates of minerals with fluid inclusions. As fluid inclusions are sealed microchambers, they preserve fluids in regions-where water is now absent, such as regions of the martian surface. Although most inclusions are <5 mu m, the possibility to obtain data from the fluids, including biosignatures and physical remains of life, underscores the advantages of technological advances in the study of fluid inclusions. The crushing of bulk samples could release inclusion waters for analysis, which could be undertaken in situ on Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages4
JournalAstrobiology
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • fluid inclusions
  • chemosynthesis
  • Mars
  • carbonates
  • planetary exploration strategy
  • MEXICO CONTINENTAL-SLOPE
  • GOLD-QUARTZ VEIN
  • EXOBIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS
  • ISOTOPIC COMPOSITION
  • STARVATION-SURVIVAL
  • HYDROTHERMAL VENTS
  • DEEP SUBSURFACE
  • LOW-TEMPERATURE
  • SALT CRYSTALS
  • MARTIAN LIFE

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