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Maghemite Formation via Organics and the Prospect for Maghemite as a Biomarker Mineral on MarsOne of the major questions on Mars is the origin of the magnetic component in the surface material. Our work on maghemite formation suggests that alteration of femhydrite in the presence of organics would provide a plausible formation scenario for this magnetic soil component and further suggests that maghemite might be an important biomarker mineral on Mars. Identification of biomarker minerals is an important aspect of Astrobiology . The iron oxide mineral maghemite is thought to be one of the magnetic components in the Martian surface material; however, it is a rare mineral on the Earth and requires a reducing agent for synthesis. Organic material serves as a reductant in maghemite formation during forest fires on Earth and may play an important role in maghemite formation on Mars through low-temperature heating (e.g., volcanism, impacts). This study involves analysis of magnetite, maghemite and hematite formation under Martian environmental conditions from femhydrite in the presence and absence of organics. A dehydrated version of the mineral femhydrite is thought to be present in Martian soil/dust grains and could have formed at an earlier time on Mars when water was present. Our work indicates that low-temperature alteration of femhydrite in the presence of organic material could be an important mechanism on Mars.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Bishop, Janice (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Mancinelli, R. L. (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Inst.)
Madsen, M. B. (Orsted Inst. Copenhagen, Denmark)
Zent, A. P. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
March 7, 2000
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Meeting Information
Astrobiology Science Conference(Moffett Field, CA)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 344-34-00-02
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