Methylated silicates may explain the release of chlorinated methane from Martian soil

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The only organic compounds that have been detected in the Martian soil are simple chlorinated compounds released from heated surface material. However, the sources of the organic carbon are in dispute. Wind abraded silicates, which are widespread on the Martian surface, can sequester atmospheric methane which generates methylated silicates and thus could provide a mechanism for accumulation of reduced carbon in the surface soil. In this study we show that thermal volatilization of methylated silicates in the presence of perchlorate leads to the production of chlorinated methane. Thus, methylated silicates could be a source of the organic carbon released as chlorinated methane upon thermal volatilization of Martian soil samples. Further, our experiments show that the ratio of the different chlorinated compounds produced is dependent on the mass ratio of perchlorate to organic carbon in the soil.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Pages (from-to)226-231
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Abrasion
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Mars
  • Organics
  • Perchlorate
  • Planetary science


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