Evidence for methane in Martian meteorites

Blamey, N.J.F., Parnell, J., McMahon, S., Mark, D.F. , Tomkinson, T., Lee, M. , Shivak, J., Izawa, M.R.M., Banerjee, N.R. and Flemming, R.L. (2015) Evidence for methane in Martian meteorites. Nature Communications, 6, 7399. (doi: 10.1038/ncomms8399) (PMID:26079798) (PMCID:PMC4521231)

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The putative occurrence of methane in the Martian atmosphere has had a major influence on the exploration of Mars, especially by the implication of active biology. The occurrence has not been borne out by measurements of atmosphere by the MSL rover Curiosity but, as on Earth, methane on Mars is most likely in the subsurface of the crust. Serpentinization of olivine-bearing rocks, to yield hydrogen that may further react with carbon-bearing species, has been widely invoked as a source of methane on Mars, but this possibility has not hitherto been tested. Here we show that some Martian meteorites, representing basic igneous rocks, liberate a methane-rich volatile component on crushing. The occurrence of methane in Martian rock samples adds strong weight to models whereby any life on Mars is/was likely to be resident in a subsurface habitat, where methane could be a source of energy and carbon for microbial activity.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Mars, methane.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mark, Professor Darren and Tomkinson, Dr Tim and Lee, Professor Martin
Authors: Blamey, N.J.F., Parnell, J., McMahon, S., Mark, D.F., Tomkinson, T., Lee, M., Shivak, J., Izawa, M.R.M., Banerjee, N.R., and Flemming, R.L.
Subjects:Q Science > QE Geology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Earth Sciences
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Research Group:Earth Systems
Journal Name:Nature Communications
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):2041-1723
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Nature Communications 6:7399
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
519741Follow the water: insights into the martian hydrosphere from nakhlitesMartin LeeScience & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)ST/H002960/1SCHOOL OF GEOGRAPHICAL & EARTH SCIENCES