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Noble gases and nitrogen in Tissint reveal the composition of the Mars atmosphere

G. Avice1,2,

1CRPG-CNRS/Université de Lorraine, 15 rue Notre-Dame des Pauvres, 54500 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France
2California Institute of Technology, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, 1200 E. California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

D.V. Bekaert1,

1CRPG-CNRS/Université de Lorraine, 15 rue Notre-Dame des Pauvres, 54500 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France

H. Chennaoui Aoudjehane3,

3Hassan II University of Casablanca, Faculty of Sciences Ain Chock, Géosciences Appliquées à l’Ingénierie et l’Aménagement (GAIA) Laboratory, Km 8 Route d’El Jadida, 20150 Casablanca, Morocco

B. Marty1

1CRPG-CNRS/Université de Lorraine, 15 rue Notre-Dame des Pauvres, 54500 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France

Affiliations  |  Corresponding Author  |  Cite as  |  Funding information

Avice, G., Bekaert, D.V., Chennaoui Aoudjehane, H., Marty, B. (2018) Noble gases and nitrogen in Tissint reveal the composition of the Mars atmosphere. Geochem. Persp. Let. 6, 11–16.

ERC (grants no. 267255 and 69618 to B.M.).

Geochemical Perspectives Letters v6  |  doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1802
Received 23 July 2017  |  Accepted 24 January 2018  |  Published 9 February 2018
Copyright © The Authors

Published by the European Association of Geochemistry
under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0




Figure 1 N-Ar isotope plots. (a) δ15N vs. 36Ar/14N mixing diagram. The line corresponds to the relationship between an end-member with low δ15N and 36Ar/14N values, and the Mars atmosphere with elevated isotope and elemental ratios and was computed using Isoplot software (courtesy of K. Ludwig, Berkeley Geochronology Center). Dashed lines correspond to 1σ error envelope. (b) Same as (a) but with the 40Ar/14N ratio. (c) Expanded view of (b) showing results from Viking (Owen et al., 1977

Owen, T., Biemann, K., Rushneck, D.R., Biller, J.E., Howarth, D.W., Lafleur, A.L. (1977) The composition of the atmosphere at the surface of Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research 82, 4635-4639.

) and MSL (Wong et al., 2013

Wong, M.H., Atreya, S.K., Mahaffy, P.N., Franz, H.B., Malespin, C., Trainer, M.G., Stern, J.C., Conrad, P.G., Manning, H.L.K., Pepin, R.O., Becker, R.H., McKay, C.P., Owen, T.C., Navarro-González, R., Jones, J.H., Jakosky, B.M., Steele, A. (2013) Isotopes of nitrogen on Mars: Atmospheric measurements by Curiosity's mass spectrometer. Geophysical Research Letters 40, 6033-6037.

). Tissint data are compatible with the 40Ar/14N ratio defined by Viking. Errors correspond to 1σ.
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Figure 2 Three isotope plot of Xe measured in Tissint samples. Data define a mixing trend between the terrestrial (Ozima and Podosek, 2002

Ozima, M., Podosek, F.A. (2002) Noble Gas Geochemistry. Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

) and Martian atmospheres (Mathew et al., 1998

Mathew, K.J., Kim, J.S., Marti, K. (1998) Martian atmospheric and indigenous components of xenon and nitrogen in SNC meteorites. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 33, 655-664.

). Chassigny is from Ott (1988)

Ott, U. (1988) Noble gases in SNC meteorites: Shergotty, Nakhla, Chassigny. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 52, 1937-1948.

and is comparable to SW-Xe (Meshik et al., 2014

Meshik, A., Hohenberg, C., Pravdivtseva, O., Burnett, D. (2014) Heavy noble gases in solar wind delivered by Genesis mission. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 127, 326-347.

). Chondritic (Q-Xe) from Busemann et al. (2000)

Busemann, H., Baur, H., Wieler, R. (2000) Primordial noble gases in “phase Q” in carbonaceous and ordinary chondrites studied by closed‐system stepped etching. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 35, 949-973.

. New results from the MSL mission (Conrad et al., 2016

Conrad, P.G., Malespin, C.A., Franz, H.B., Pepin, R.O., Trainer, M.G., Schwenzer, S.P., Atreya, S.K., Freissinet, C., Jones, J.H., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pavlov, A.A., Wiens, R.C., Wong, M.H., Mahaffy, P.R. (2016) In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 454, 1-9.

) have similar 136Xe/132Xe but higher 129Xe/132Xe than previous studies. Errors correspond to 1σ.
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Figure 3 Isotope composition of Xe and Kr in Tissint. (a) Isotope spectrum of Xe released from sample Glass 3. The isotopic compositions of Xe measured by MSL (Conrad et al., 2016

Conrad, P.G., Malespin, C.A., Franz, H.B., Pepin, R.O., Trainer, M.G., Schwenzer, S.P., Atreya, S.K., Freissinet, C., Jones, J.H., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pavlov, A.A., Wiens, R.C., Wong, M.H., Mahaffy, P.R. (2016) In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 454, 1-9.

) and in other Martian meteorites (Mathew et al., 1998

Mathew, K.J., Kim, J.S., Marti, K. (1998) Martian atmospheric and indigenous components of xenon and nitrogen in SNC meteorites. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 33, 655-664.

) are also displayed. All data are normalised to 132Xe and to SW-Xe (Meshik et al., 2014

Meshik, A., Hohenberg, C., Pravdivtseva, O., Burnett, D. (2014) Heavy noble gases in solar wind delivered by Genesis mission. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 127, 326-347.

) and expressed in delta notation: δiXe = 1000 * [(iXe/132Xe)/( iXe/132Xe)SW-Xe - 1]. 129Xe excesses relative to SW-Xe are shown in the top-right sub-panel. Xe isotope spectra corrected for terrestrial Xe, for 1 Myr and 0.7 Myr of cosmic-ray exposure are also shown. (b) Isotope spectra of Kr extracted from sample glass compared to results obtained on lithology C (glass) of the EETA79001 meteorite (Swindle et al., 1986

Swindle, T.D., Caffee, M.W., Hohenberg, C.M. (1986) Xenon and other noble gases in shergottites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 50, 1001-1015.

) and in situ by MSL (Conrad et al., 2016

Conrad, P.G., Malespin, C.A., Franz, H.B., Pepin, R.O., Trainer, M.G., Schwenzer, S.P., Atreya, S.K., Freissinet, C., Jones, J.H., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pavlov, A.A., Wiens, R.C., Wong, M.H., Mahaffy, P.R. (2016) In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 454, 1-9.

). Terrestrial Kr (Ozima and Podosek, 2002

Ozima, M., Podosek, F.A. (2002) Noble Gas Geochemistry. Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

) is shown for comparison. Data are expressed in delta notation relative to solar-wind Kr (Meshik et al., 2014

Meshik, A., Hohenberg, C., Pravdivtseva, O., Burnett, D. (2014) Heavy noble gases in solar wind delivered by Genesis mission. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 127, 326-347.

). Errors correspond to 1σ.
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Table 1 Range of values proposed for the elemental and isotope composition of the Martian atmosphere. The agreement between meteorites and Viking mission data suggests that the Ar/N ratio determined by Viking is correct (Owen et al., 1977

Owen, T., Biemann, K., Rushneck, D.R., Biller, J.E., Howarth, D.W., Lafleur, A.L. (1977) The composition of the atmosphere at the surface of Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research 82, 4635-4639.

). 40Ar/36Ar ratios from this study and from in situ measurements reported in Mahaffy et al. (2013)

Mahaffy, P.R., Webster, C.R., Atreya, S.K., Franz, H., Wong, M., Conrad, P.G., Harpold, D., Jones, J.J., Leshin, L.A., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pepin, R. O., Squyres, S., Trainer, M., MSL Science Team (2013) Abundance and Isotopic Composition of Gases in the Martian Atmosphere from the Curiosity Rover. Science 341, 263-266.

. For 124-126Xe/132Xe ratios, we propose the values determined in this study for two different CRE ages (0.7 and 1 Ma). Values for 128-136Xe/132Xe ratios from Conrad et al. (2016)

Conrad, P.G., Malespin, C.A., Franz, H.B., Pepin, R.O., Trainer, M.G., Schwenzer, S.P., Atreya, S.K., Freissinet, C., Jones, J.H., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pavlov, A.A., Wiens, R.C., Wong, M.H., Mahaffy, P.R. (2016) In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 454, 1-9.

. Krypton values from Swindle et al. (1986)

Swindle, T.D., Caffee, M.W., Hohenberg, C.M. (1986) Xenon and other noble gases in shergottites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 50, 1001-1015.

. Errors correspond to 1σ.
Argon - Nitrogen
40Ar/14N0.35 ± 0.08 Owen et al. (1977)

Owen, T., Biemann, K., Rushneck, D.R., Biller, J.E., Howarth, D.W., Lafleur, A.L. (1977) The composition of the atmosphere at the surface of Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research 82, 4635-4639.

40Ar/36Ar1714 ± 170 this study




1900 ± 300Mahaffy et al. (2013)

Mahaffy, P.R., Webster, C.R., Atreya, S.K., Franz, H., Wong, M., Conrad, P.G., Harpold, D., Jones, J.J., Leshin, L.A., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pepin, R. O., Squyres, S., Trainer, M., MSL Science Team (2013) Abundance and Isotopic Composition of Gases in the Martian Atmosphere from the Curiosity Rover. Science 341, 263-266.

XenonKrypton
124Xe/132Xe0.0039–0.0045this study (CRE = 0.7–1 Ma)78Kr/84Kr0.0078 ± 0.0005Swindle et al. (1986)

Swindle, T.D., Caffee, M.W., Hohenberg, C.M. (1986) Xenon and other noble gases in shergottites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 50, 1001-1015.


0.00468 ± 0.00025Conrad et al. (2016)

Conrad, P.G., Malespin, C.A., Franz, H.B., Pepin, R.O., Trainer, M.G., Schwenzer, S.P., Atreya, S.K., Freissinet, C., Jones, J.H., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pavlov, A.A., Wiens, R.C., Wong, M.H., Mahaffy, P.R. (2016) In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 454, 1-9.

80Kr/84Kr0.0445 ± 0.0010-
126Xe/132Xe0.0030–0.0037this study (CRE = 0.7–1 Ma)82Kr/84Kr0.2090 ± 0.0026-

0.00403 ± 0.0004Conrad et al. (2016)

Conrad, P.G., Malespin, C.A., Franz, H.B., Pepin, R.O., Trainer, M.G., Schwenzer, S.P., Atreya, S.K., Freissinet, C., Jones, J.H., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pavlov, A.A., Wiens, R.C., Wong, M.H., Mahaffy, P.R. (2016) In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 454, 1-9.

83Kr/84Kr0.2034 ± 0.0023-
128Xe/132Xe0.07466 ± 0.00077Conrad et al. (2016)

Conrad, P.G., Malespin, C.A., Franz, H.B., Pepin, R.O., Trainer, M.G., Schwenzer, S.P., Atreya, S.K., Freissinet, C., Jones, J.H., Manning, H., Owen, T., Pavlov, A.A., Wiens, R.C., Wong, M.H., Mahaffy, P.R. (2016) In situ measurement of atmospheric krypton and xenon on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 454, 1-9.

86Kr/84Kr0.3027 ± 0.0030-
129Xe/132Xe2.5221 ± 0.0063-


130Xe/132Xe0.1537 ± 0.0009-


131Xe/132Xe0.8123 ± 0.0029-


134Xe/132Xe0.4021 ± 0.0026-


136Xe/132Xe0.3452 ± 0.0022-


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