Oct 19, 2005

Production of low molecular weight hydrocarbons by volcanic eruptions on early Mars

Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere : the Journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life
Antígona Segura, Rafael Navarro-González

Abstract

Methane and other larger hydrocarbons have been proposed as possible greenhouse gases on early Mars. In this work we explore if volcanic processes may have been a source for such molecules based on theoretical and experimental considerations. Geologic evidence and numerical simulations indicate that explosive volcanism was widely distributed throughout Mars. Volcanic lightning is typically produced in such explosive volcanism. Therefore this geologic setting was studied to determine if lightning could be a source for hydrocarbons in volcanic plumes. Volcanic lightning was simulated by focusing a high-energy infrared laser beam inside of a Pyrex reactor that contained the proposed volcanic gas mixture composed of 64% CH(4), 24% H(2), 10% H(2)O and 2% N(2), according to an accretion model and the nitrogen content measured in Martian meteorites. The analysis of products was performed by gas chromatography coupled to infrared and mass spectroscopy. Eleven hydrocarbons were identified among the products, of which acetylene (C(2)H(2)) was the most abundant. A thermochemical model was used to determine which hydrocarbons could arise only from volcanic heat. In this case, acetylene and ethylene are formed at magmatic temperatures. Our ...Continue Reading

  • References9
  • Citations1

References

  • References9
  • Citations1

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Acetylene
Methane
Evolution, Chemical
Hydrogen
Drug Eruptions
Space (Astronomy)
Mass Spectrometry
Lightning (Phenomenon)
Nitrogen
Eruptions

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