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Large sulfur isotope fractionations in Martian sediments at Gale crater

Franz, H. B.; McAdam, A. C.; Ming, D. W.; Freissinet, C.; Mahaffy, P. R.; Eldridge, D. L.; Fischer, W. W.; Grotzinger, J. P.; House, C. H.; Hurowitz, J. A.; McLennan, S. M.; Schwenzer, S. P.; Vaniman, D. T.; Archer, P. D.; Atreya, S. K.; Conrad, P. G.; Dottin III, J. W.; Eigenbrode, J. L.; Farley, K. A.; Glavin, D. P.; Johnson, S. S.; Knudson, C. A.; Morris, R. V.; Navarro-Gonzales, R.; Pavlov, A. A.; Plummer, R.; Rampe, E. B.; Stern, J. C.; Steele, A.; Summons, R. E. and Sutter, B. (2017). Large sulfur isotope fractionations in Martian sediments at Gale crater. Nature Geoscience (Early Access).

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1038/NGEO3002
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Abstract

Variability in the sulfur isotopic composition in sediments can reflect atmospheric, geologic and biological processes. Evidence for ancient fluvio-lacustrine environments at Gale crater on Mars and a lack of efficient crustal recycling mechanisms on the planet suggests a surface environment that was once warm enough to allow the presence of liquid water, at least for discrete periods of time, and implies a greenhouse effect that may have been influenced by sulfur-bearing volcanic gases. Here we report in situ analyses of the sulfur isotopic compositions of SO2 volatilized from ten sediment samples acquired by NASA’s Curiosity rover along a 13 km traverse of Gale crater. We find large variations in sulfur isotopic composition that exceed those measured for Martian meteorites and show both depletion and enrichment in 34S. Measured values of δ34S range from −47 ± 14‰ to 28 ± 7‰, similar to the range typical of terrestrial environments. Although limited geochronological constraints on the stratigraphy traversed by Curiosity are available, we propose that the observed sulfur isotopic signatures at Gale crater can be explained by equilibrium fractionation between sulfate and sulfide in an impact-driven hydrothermal system and atmospheric processing of sulfur-bearing gases during transient warm periods.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
ISSN: 1752-0908
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Mars Science Laboratory Studies of Water-Rock Interaction on MarsST/J005339/1STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
Mars Science Laboratory Studies of Water-Rock Interaction on Mars (SP-11-134-SK)ST/J005339/1UK Space Agency (UKSA)
Support for Mars Science Laboratory OperationsST/P002110/1UKSA UK Space Agency
Keywords: sulphur isotopes; Gale Crater; Mars Science Laboratory Rover; Impact generated hydrothermal systems
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Item ID: 50421
Depositing User: Susanne Schwenzer
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2017 09:59
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2017 16:24
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/50421
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