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Oxygen Isotopic Constraints on the Genesis of Carbonates from Martian Meteorite ALH84001

Leshin, Laurie A. and McKeegan, Kevin D. and Carpenter, Paul K. and Harvey, Ralph P. (1998) Oxygen Isotopic Constraints on the Genesis of Carbonates from Martian Meteorite ALH84001. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 62 (1). pp. 3-13. ISSN 0016-7037. doi:10.1016/S0016-7037(97)00331-1.

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Ion microprobe oxygen isotopic measurements of a chemically diverse suite of carbonates from Martian meteorite ALH84001 are reported. The δ^(18)O values are highly variable, ranging from +5.4 to +25.3‰, and are correlated with major element compositions of the carbonate. The earliest-forming (Ca-rich) carbonates have the lowest δ^(18)O values and the late-forming (Mg-rich) carbonates have the highest δ^(18)O values. Two models are presented which can explain the isotopic variations. The carbonates could have formed in a water rich environment at relatively low, but highly variable temperatures. In this open-system case the lower limit to the temperature variation is ∼125°C, with fluctuations of over 250°C possible within the constraints of the model. Alternatively, the data can be explained by a closed-system model in which the carbonates precipitated from a limited amount of CO_2-rich fluid. This scenario can reproduce the isotopic variations observed at a range of temperatures, including relatively high temperatures (> 500°C). Thus the oxygen isotopic compositions do not provide unequivocal evidence for formation of the carbonates at low temperature. Although more information is needed in order to distinguish between the models, neither of the implied environments is consistent with biological activity. Thus, we suggest that features associated with the carbonates which have been interpreted to be the result of biological activity were most probably formed by inorganic processes.

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Additional Information:© 1998 Elsevier. Received 12 August 1997, Accepted 16 September 1997. We thank Z. Sharp and I. Hutcheon for providing carbonate standards. The laboratory assistance of C. Coath, C. Engrand, G. Jarzebinski, and K. Zito is gratefully acknowledged. Discussions with C. Engrand, C. House, A. Krot, C. Manning, S. Mojzsis, H. McSween, W. Schopf, and E. Shock have been very beneficial. Reviews by I. Hutcheon and two anonymous reviewers were thoughtful and improved the manuscript. We particularly thank H. McSween and E. Stolper for the use of samples, and M. Lindstrom and the Antarctic Meteorite Program for ALH84001 allocations. This work was supported by grants from NSF and NASA.
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Deposited On:12 Mar 2018 18:18
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