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Title: Clay mineral formation under oxidized conditions and implications for paleoenvironments and organic preservation on Mars

Abstract

Clay mineral-bearing locations have been targeted for martian exploration as potentially habitable environments and as possible repositories for the preservation of organic matter. Although organic matter has been detected at Gale Crater, Mars, its concentrations are lower than expected from meteoritic and indigenous igneous and hydrothermal reduced carbon. We conducted synthesis experiments motivated by the hypothesis that some clay mineral formation may have occurred under oxidized conditions conducive to the destruction of organics. Previous work has suggested that anoxic and/or reducing conditions are needed to synthesize the Fe-rich clay mineral nontronite at low temperatures. In contrast, our experiments demonstrated the rapid formation of Fe-rich clay minerals of variable crystallinity from aqueous Fe 3+ with small amounts of aqueous Mg 2+. Furthermore, our results suggest that Fe-rich clay minerals such as nontronite can form rapidly under oxidized conditions, which could help explain low concentrations of organics within some smectite-containing rocks or sediments on Mars.

Authors:
 [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [4];  [1]
  1. Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
  2. State Univ. of New York, Stony Brook, NY (United States)
  3. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States)
  4. Carnegie Inst. of Washington, Argonne, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Advanced Photon Source (APS)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA); USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1408123
Grant/Contract Number:  
FG02-99ER45775; NA0001974; NA0001982; SC0005278; AC02-06CH11357; AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
ENGLISH
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES

Citation Formats

Gainey, Seth R., Hausrath, Elisabeth M., Adcock, Christopher T., Tschauner, Oliver, Hurowitz, Joel A., Ehlmann, Bethany L., Xiao, Yuming, and Bartlett, Courtney L. Clay mineral formation under oxidized conditions and implications for paleoenvironments and organic preservation on Mars. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01235-7.
Gainey, Seth R., Hausrath, Elisabeth M., Adcock, Christopher T., Tschauner, Oliver, Hurowitz, Joel A., Ehlmann, Bethany L., Xiao, Yuming, & Bartlett, Courtney L. Clay mineral formation under oxidized conditions and implications for paleoenvironments and organic preservation on Mars. United States. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01235-7.
Gainey, Seth R., Hausrath, Elisabeth M., Adcock, Christopher T., Tschauner, Oliver, Hurowitz, Joel A., Ehlmann, Bethany L., Xiao, Yuming, and Bartlett, Courtney L. Wed . "Clay mineral formation under oxidized conditions and implications for paleoenvironments and organic preservation on Mars". United States. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01235-7. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1408123.
@article{osti_1408123,
title = {Clay mineral formation under oxidized conditions and implications for paleoenvironments and organic preservation on Mars},
author = {Gainey, Seth R. and Hausrath, Elisabeth M. and Adcock, Christopher T. and Tschauner, Oliver and Hurowitz, Joel A. and Ehlmann, Bethany L. and Xiao, Yuming and Bartlett, Courtney L.},
abstractNote = {Clay mineral-bearing locations have been targeted for martian exploration as potentially habitable environments and as possible repositories for the preservation of organic matter. Although organic matter has been detected at Gale Crater, Mars, its concentrations are lower than expected from meteoritic and indigenous igneous and hydrothermal reduced carbon. We conducted synthesis experiments motivated by the hypothesis that some clay mineral formation may have occurred under oxidized conditions conducive to the destruction of organics. Previous work has suggested that anoxic and/or reducing conditions are needed to synthesize the Fe-rich clay mineral nontronite at low temperatures. In contrast, our experiments demonstrated the rapid formation of Fe-rich clay minerals of variable crystallinity from aqueous Fe3+ with small amounts of aqueous Mg2+. Furthermore, our results suggest that Fe-rich clay minerals such as nontronite can form rapidly under oxidized conditions, which could help explain low concentrations of organics within some smectite-containing rocks or sediments on Mars.},
doi = {10.1038/s41467-017-01235-7},
journal = {Nature Communications},
number = 1,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {11}
}

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Figures / Tables:

Fig. 1 Fig. 1: X-Ray diffractograms of the synthetic clay minerals. Samples were analyzed as oriented samples on Si-mounts. Note that the 001 diffraction of the 0-Mg nontronite control, using initial Fe2+, indicates that the control is crystalline, whereas the 0-Mg experiment, including only Fe3+ is largely amorphous. This is also shownmore » in the 100 °C experiments (Supplementary Fig. 21) and is in agreement with the previous studies of Harder, and Decarreau et al. Increasing Mg concentrations in the Fe3+ solutions resulted in increased crystallinity of the synthesized products. These results indicate that Fe-rich clay minerals can be precipitated under oxidized conditions, as long as Mg is present in at least small concentrations in the intial starting solution. The pure Mg precipitate had a much broader basal reflection, suggesting less coherent stacking along the c-axis« less

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    Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.