NanoSIMS analysis of organic carbon from the Tissint Martian meteorite: Evidence for the past existence of subsurface organic-bearing fluids on Mars

Two petrographic settings of carbonaceous components, mainly filling open fractures and occasionally enclosed in shock-melt veins, were found in the recently fallen Tissint Martian meteorite. The presence in shock-melt veins and the deuterium enrichments (delta D up to +1183 parts per thousand) of these components clearly indicate a pristine Martian origin. The carbonaceous components are kerogen-like, based on micro-Raman spectra and multielemental ratios, and were probably deposited from fluids in shock-induced fractures in the parent rock of Tissint. After precipitation of the organic matter, the rock experienced another severe shock event, producing the melt veins that encapsulated a part of the organic matter. The C isotopic compositions of the organic matter (delta C-13 = -12.8 to -33.1 parts per thousand) are significantly lighter than Martian atmospheric CO2 and carbonate, providing a tantalizing hint for a possible biotic process. Alternatively, the organic matter could be derived from carbonaceous chondrites, as insoluble organic matter from the latter has similar chemical and isotopic compositions. The presence of organic-rich fluids that infiltrated rocks near the surface of Mars has significant implications for the study of Martian paleoenvironment and perhaps to search for possible ancient biological activities on Mars.

Published in:
Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 49, 12, 2201-2218
Hoboken, Wiley-Blackwell

 Record created 2015-02-20, last modified 2018-03-17

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