Geochemical biosignature formation in experimental Martian fluvio‐lacustrine and simulated evaporitic settings

Cogliati, Simone and Macey, Michael C. (2024). Geochemical biosignature formation in experimental Martian fluvio‐lacustrine and simulated evaporitic settings. Meteoritics & Planetary Science (early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.14141

Abstract

To assess whether life existed on Mars, it is crucial to identify geochemical biosignatures that are relevant to specific Martian environments. In this paper, thermochemical modeling was used to investigate fluid chemistries and secondary minerals that would have evolved biotically over geological time scales in Martian fluvio‐lacustrine and evaporitic settings, and that could be used as potential inorganic biosignatures for life detection on Mars. Modeling was performed using fluid and rock chemistries relevant to Gale crater aqueous environments. Potential inorganic biosignatures were identified investigating alteration deposits found at the surface of a simulant exposed to short‐term bio‐mediated weathering and comparing experimental and modeling results. In a fluvio‐lacustrine setting (water/rock of 2000–278), models suggest that less complex mineral assemblages form during biotic basalt dissolution and subsequent brine evaporation compared to what would happen in an abiotic system. Mainly nontronite, kaolinite, and quartz form under biotic conditions, whereas celadonite, talc, and goethite would also precipitate abiotically. Quartz, sepiolite, and gypsum would precipitate from the evaporation of fluids evolved biotically, whereas nontronite, talc, zeolite, and gypsum would form in an abiotic evaporitic environment. These results could be used to distinguish products of abiotic and biotic processes, aiding the interpretation of data from Mars exploration missions.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Metrics

Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions

Export

About