Publication Details

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Title: Oxygen isotopic constraints on the genesis of carbonates from martian meteorite ALH84001
Authors: L.A. Leshin, K.D. McKeegan, P. K. Carpenter, and R.E. Harvey
Publication: Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, v. 62, p. 3‐13.
Publish Date: Jan 1998
DOI: 10.1016/S0016-7037(97)00331-1
PDF: pdf
BibTEX Citation: Leshin:1998.bib


Ion microprobe oxygen isotopic measurements of a chemically diverse suite of carbonates from Martian meteorite ALH84001 are reported. The δ18O 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 δ18O values and the late‐forming (Mg‐rich) carbonates have the highest δ18O 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 CO2−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.