Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




EARLY EARTH
Carbon's role in atmosphere formation
by Staff Writers
Providence RI (SPX) Apr 09, 2013


Early on, Mars had giant active volcanoes, which would have released significant methane. Because of methane's high greenhouse potential, even a thin atmosphere might have supported liquid water. Credit: NASA

A new study of how carbon is trapped and released by iron-rich volcanic magma offers clues about the early atmospheric evolution on Mars and other terrestrial bodies. The composition of a planet's atmosphere has roots deep beneath its surface.

When mantle material melts to form magma, it traps subsurface carbon. As magma moves upward toward the surface and pressure decreases, that carbon is released as a gas.

On Earth, carbon is trapped in magma as carbonate and degassed as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that helps Earth's atmosphere trap heat from the sun. But how carbon is transferred from underground to the atmosphere in other planets - and how that might influence greenhouse conditions - wasn't well understood.

"We know carbon goes from the solid mantle to the liquid magma, from liquid to gas and then out," said Alberto Saal, professor of geological sciences at Brown and one of the study's authors. "We want to understand how the different carbon species that are formed in the conditions that are relevant to the planet affect the transfer."

This latest study, which also included researchers from Northwestern University and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, indicated that under conditions like those found in the mantles of Mars, the Moon and other bodies, carbon is trapped in the magmas mainly as a species called iron carbonyl and released as carbon monoxide and methane gas. Both gasses, methane especially, have high greenhouse potential.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that when volcanism was widespread early in Mars' history, it may have released enough methane to keep the planet significantly warmer than it is today.

A key difference between conditions in Earth's mantle and the mantles of other terrestrial bodies is what scientists refer to as oxygen fugacity, the amount of free oxygen available to react with other elements. Earth's mantle today has a relatively high oxygen fugacity, but in bodies like the Moon and early Mars, it is very low.

To find out what how that lower oxygen fugacity affects carbon transfer, the researchers set up a series of experiments using volcanic basalt similar to those found on the Moon and Mars.

They melted the volcanic rock at varying pressures, temperature, and oxygen fugacities, using a powerful spectrometer to measure how much carbon was absorbed by the melt and in what form. They found that at low oxygen fugacities, carbon was trapped as iron carbonyl, something previous research hadn't detected. At lower pressures, iron carbonyl degassed as carbon monoxide and methane.

"We found that you can dissolve in the magma more carbon at low oxygen fugacity than what was previously thought," said Diane Wetzel, a Brown graduate student and the study's lead author. "That plays a big role in the degassing of planetary interiors and in how that will then affect the evolution of atmospheres in different planetary bodies."

Early in its history, Mars was home to giant active volcanoes, which means significant amounts of methane would have been released by carbon transfer. Because of methane's greenhouse potential, which is much higher than that of carbon dioxide, the findings suggest that even a thin atmosphere early in Mars' history might have created conditions warm enough for liquid water on the surface.

Other authors on the paper were Malcolm Rutherford from Brown, Steven Jacobson from Northwestern. and Erik Hauri from the Carnegie Institution. The work was supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Deep Carbon Observatory.

.


Related Links
Brown University
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EARLY EARTH
Researcher offers clues on the origins of life
Tallahassee FL (SPX) Apr 09, 2013
A structural biologist at the Florida State University College of Medicine has made discoveries that could lead scientists a step closer to understanding how life first emerged on Earth billions of years ago. Professor Michael Blaber and his team produced data supporting the idea that 10 amino acids believed to exist on Earth around 4 billion years ago were capable of forming foldable prot ... read more


EARLY EARTH
Characterizing The Lunar Radiation Environment

Russia rekindles Moon exploration program, intends setting up first human outposts there

Pre-existing mineralogy may survive lunar impacts

Lunar cycle determines hunting behaviour of nocturnal gulls

EARLY EARTH
Astronaut's radiation study will be critical for Mars mission

Remaining Martian Atmosphere Still Dynamic

Registration Opens for NASA Night Rover Energy Challenge

Final MAVEN Instrument Integrated to Spacecraft

EARLY EARTH
Underwater for outer space

NASA Celebrates Four Decades of Plucky Pioneer 11

Do Intellectual Property Rights on Existing Technologies Hinder Subsequent Innovation

Boeing Completes Preliminary Design Review for Connection Between CST-100 Spacecraft and Rocket

EARLY EARTH
Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

Shenzhou 10 sent to launch site

China's Next Women Astronauts

Shenzhou 10 - Next Stop: Jiuquan

EARLY EARTH
Spooky action at a distance aboard the ISS

First data released from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Team Publishes First Findings

New crew takes express ride to space station

EARLY EARTH
Arianespace receives the second Vega for launch from French Guiana

Future Looks Bright for Private US Space Ventures

Europe's next ATV resupply spacecraft enters final preparatio?ns for its Ariane 5 launch

ILS Proton Launches Satmex 8 Satellite for Satmex

EARLY EARTH
Retired Star Found With Planets And Debris Disc

The Great Exoplanet Debate

NASA Selects Explorer Investigations for Formulation

The Great Exoplanet Debate Part Four

EARLY EARTH
Accidental discovery may lead to improved polymers

What's between a slip and a slide?

Light may recast copper as chemical industry 'holy grail'

New camera system creates high-resolution 3-D images from up to a kilometer away




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement