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The Case of the Lacking Carbonates and the Emergence of Early Life on Mars

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  • David Carlos Fernández-Remolar

    () (Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC), Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), Ctra Ajalvir km 4, Torrejón de Ardoz, 28850 Madrid, Spain)

  • Mónica Sánchez-Román

    () (Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC), Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), Ctra Ajalvir km 4, Torrejón de Ardoz, 28850 Madrid, Spain)

  • Ricardo Amils

    () (Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC), Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), Ctra Ajalvir km 4, Torrejón de Ardoz, 28850 Madrid, Spain
    Centro de Biología Molecular, CSIC, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain)

Abstract

The mineralogical characterization of Mars by different exploration missions, provides a new image of the earliest conditions that prevailed on the planet surface. The detection of extensive deposits of phyllosillicates has been considered to be as a result of the production of hydrated silicates through alteration and precipitation under neutral to sub-alkaline conditions. Although extensive deposits of carbonates should precipitate beneath a thick CO 2 -bearing atmosphere, only a few outcrops of Mg-rich carbonates have been detected on Mars. Paradoxically those carbonates occur in association with geological units exposed to acidic paleoenvironments. Given such geochemical conditions on Earth, the carbon cycle is intimately associated with life, then, we can assume that the presence or absence of microbial communities should have impacted the distribution of those carbonate compounds on Mars. In this paper, we suggest three potential geobiological scenarios to explain how the emergence of life on Mars would have impacted the carbon cycle and, hence, the formation of carbonates on a planetary scale.

Suggested Citation

  • David Carlos Fernández-Remolar & Mónica Sánchez-Román & Ricardo Amils, 2010. "The Case of the Lacking Carbonates and the Emergence of Early Life on Mars," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(8), pages 1-14, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:2:y:2010:i:8:p:2541-2554:d:9197
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    carbonates; carbon cycle; microbial life; subsurface; primitive environments; Mars;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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