Outgassed Water on Mars: Constraints from Melt Inclusions in SNC Meteorites

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Science  26 Mar 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5103, pp. 1890-1892
DOI: 10.1126/science.259.5103.1890


The SNC (shergottite-nakhlite-chassignite) meteorites, thought to be igneous rocks from Mars, contain melt inclusions trapped at depth in early-formed crystals. Determination of the pre-eruptive water contents of SNC parental magmas from calculations of the solidification histories of these amphibole-bearing inclusions indicates that martian magmas commonly contained 1.4 percent water by weight. When combined with an estimate of the volume of igneous materials on Mars, this information suggests that the total amount of water outgassed since 3.9 billion years ago corresponds to global depths on the order of 200 meters. This value is significantly higher than previous geochemical estimates but lower than estimates based on erosion by floods. These results imply a wetter Mars interior than has been previously thought and support suggestions of significant outgassing before formation of a stable crust or heterogeneous accretion of a veneer of cometary matter.

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