Noble gases and nitrogen in Martian meteorites Dar al Gani 476, Sayh al Uhaymir 005 and Lewis Cliff 88516: EFA and extra neon

Mohapatra, Ratan K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Herrmann, Siegfried; Murty, S. V. S.; Ott, Ulrich and Gilmour, Jamie D. (2009). Noble gases and nitrogen in Martian meteorites Dar al Gani 476, Sayh al Uhaymir 005 and Lewis Cliff 88516: EFA and extra neon. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73(5) pp. 1505–1522.



Meteorite “finds” from the terrestrial hot deserts have become a major contributor to the inventory of Martian meteorites. In order to understand their nitrogen and noble gas components, we have carried out stepped heating experiments on samples from two Martian meteorites collected from hot deserts. We measured interior and surface bulk samples, glassy and non-glassy portions of Dar al Gani 476 and Sayh al Uhaymir 005. We have also analyzed noble gases released from the Antarctic shergottite Lewis Cliff 88516 by crushing and stepped heating. For the hot desert meteorites significant terrestrial Ar, Kr, Xe contamination is observed, with an elementally fractionated air (EFA) component dominating the low temperature releases. The extremely low Ar/Kr/Xe ratios of EFA may be the result of multiple episodes of trapping/loss during terrestrial alteration involving aqueous fluids. We suggest fractionation processes similar to those in hot deserts to have acted on Mars, with acidic weathering on the latter possibly even more effective in producing elementally fractionated components. Addition from fission xenon is apparent in DaG 476 and SaU 005. The Ar–Kr–Xe patterns for LEW 88516 show trends as typically observed in shergottites – including evidence for a crush-released component similar to that observed in EETA 79001. A trapped Ne component most prominent in the surface sample of DaG 476 may represent air contamination. It is accompanied by little trapped Ar (20Ne/36Ar > 50) and literature data suggest its presence also in some Antarctic finds. Data for LEW 88516 and literature data, on the other hand, suggest the presence of two trapped Ne components of Martian origin characterized by different 20Ne/22Ne, possibly related to the atmosphere and the interior. Caution is recommended in interpreting nitrogen and noble gas isotopic signatures of Martian meteorites from hot deserts in terms of extraterrestrial sources and processes. Nevertheless our results provide hope that vice-versa, via noble gases and nitrogen in meteorites and other relevant samples from terrestrial deserts, Martian secondary processes can be studied.

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