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Publication - Dr Tim Tomkinson

    Evidence for methane in Martian meteorites

    Citation

    Blamey, NJF, Parnell, J, McMahon, S, Mark, DF, Tomkinson, T, Lee, M, Shivak, J, Izawa, MRM, Banerjee, NR & Flemming, RL, 2015, ‘Evidence for methane in Martian meteorites’. Nature Communications, vol 6.

    Abstract

    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.

    Full details in the University publications repository