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Limits on methane release and generation via hypervelocity impact of Martian analogue materials

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2013

M. C. Price
Affiliation:
School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NH, UK e-mail: mcp2@star.kent.ac.uk
N. K. Ramkissoon
Affiliation:
School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NH, UK e-mail: mcp2@star.kent.ac.uk
S. McMahon
Affiliation:
School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK
K. Miljković
Affiliation:
Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Université Paris Diderot, CNRS UMR7554, F-75005 Paris, France
J. Parnell
Affiliation:
School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK
P. J. Wozniakiewicz
Affiliation:
School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NH, UK e-mail: mcp2@star.kent.ac.uk Department of Mineralogy, The Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 4BD, UK
A. T. Kearsley
Affiliation:
Department of Mineralogy, The Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 4BD, UK
N. J. F. Blamey
Affiliation:
Department of Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801, USA
M. J. Cole
Affiliation:
School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NH, UK e-mail: mcp2@star.kent.ac.uk
M. J. Burchell
Affiliation:
School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NH, UK e-mail: mcp2@star.kent.ac.uk

Abstract

The quantity of methane in Mars' atmosphere, and the potential mechanism(s) responsible for its production, are still unknown. In order to test viable, abiotic, methangenic processes, we experimentally investigated two possible impact mechanisms for generating methane. In the first suite of experiments, basaltic rocks were impacted at 5 km s−1 and the quantity of gases (CH4, H2, He, N2, O2, Ar and CO2) released by the impacts was measured. In the second suite of experiments, a mixture of water ice, CO2 ice and anhydrous olivine grains was impacted to see if the shock induced rapid serpentinization of the olivine, and thus production of methane. The results of both suites of experiments demonstrate that impacts (at scales achievable in the laboratory) do not give rise to detectably enhanced quantities of methane release above background levels. Supporting hydrocode modelling was also performed to gain insight into the pressures and temperatures occurring during the impact events.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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Limits on methane release and generation via hypervelocity impact of Martian analogue materials
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