Author Topic: Might there be petrolium resources on/in Mars (Q&A)  (Read 15098 times)

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Might there be petrolium resources on/in Mars (Q&A)
« Reply #20 on: 01/21/2014 10:06 pm »
The Russian geologists probably would say yes. :)

If you're talking about small hydrocarbons, including CH4, there are many more scientists who believe some of it was created abiotically through a geological process known as serpentinisation, where water reacts with minerals deep under the ocean, producing H2, CO2 and CH4. What's more, this process plays an important role in one of the main theories as to how life arose. JPL's Michael Russell has written fascinating scholarly articles on this, some of which are publicly available through Google Scholar. Google for Russell Nitschke hydrothermal and you'll find them.


Strictly speaking serpentinisation is the relatively low temperature alteration of ultramafic rocks from the original magmatic minerals olivine, pyroxene and magmatic ambiboles into a secondary mineral assemblage of lizardite, antigorite (the two main serpentine minerals) and anthophyllite.  It's essentially a hydration reaction.  If there is dissolved CO2 you can get carbonation as well, forming talc, magnesite, dolomite and sometimes calcite and brucite.  Similar reactions occur in mafic rocks, with primary plagioclase, olivine, pyroxene and magmatic amphibole being replaced by albite, actinolite, chlorite, and epidote.  Calcite and dolomite for if there is CO2 present)

Hydrocarbon synethesis is a by product of this, where you get CO2, H2O, heat, and pressure, it's essentially a natural version of the Fischer–Tropsch process.  The process is gievn by the presence of Fe2+, especially in the form of pyrite or magnetite.

There is no good evidence that this produces commerically useful quantities of hydrocarbons, but it does produce detectable plumes of methane and heavier MW hydrocarbons over sites where this is an active process and is preserved in veins and cavities in former systems.

I helped supervise a PhD student once investigating using hydrocarbon signatures as a pathfinder to gold and base metal deposits.  He now works for Anglo-American and gets much more pay than I do....

"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: Might there be petrolium resources on/in Mars (Q&A)
« Reply #21 on: 01/21/2014 10:13 pm »
Ha, we have an expert in the house!
We will be vic-toooooo-ri-ous!!!

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Might there be petrolium resources on/in Mars (Q&A)
« Reply #22 on: 01/23/2014 08:59 pm »
I wonder if Mars could have some other processes that earth doesn't,

for example, a layer of C02 at the poles grows and shrinks every year. I could imagine some geological process trapping a layer of ice and CO2 ice mixed in with other materials and then applying huge pressure. Any plausible process by which this would make hydrocarbons of interest?

It's called Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, and occurs in low temperature hydrothermal systems in mafic and ultramafic rocks.  It's one possible mechanism for the supposed methane plumes on Mars

The other leading theory is underground Martian cities and "Burrito Fridays"...

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline R7

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Re: Might there be petrolium resources on/in Mars (Q&A)
« Reply #23 on: 01/23/2014 09:21 pm »
Ha, we have an expert in the house!
The beauty of NSF  ;)
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Might there be petrolium resources on/in Mars (Q&A)
« Reply #24 on: 01/24/2014 06:38 pm »
The other leading theory is underground Martian cities and "Burrito Fridays"...

Nahhhh..... This guy is the expert. ^
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

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