Critically testing olivine-hosted putative martian biosignatures in the Yamato 000593 meteorite-Geobiological implications

Nicola McLoughlin, Eugene G. Grosch, Per Erik Vullum, Paul Guagliardo, Martin Saunders, David Wacey

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On rocky planets such as Earth and Mars the serpentinization of olivine in ultramafic crust produces hydrogen that can act as a potential energy source for life. Direct evidence of fluid-rock interaction on Mars comes from iddingsite alteration veins found in martian meteorites. In the Yamato 000593 meteorite, putative biosignatures have been reported from altered olivines in the form of microtextures and associated organic material that have been compared to tubular bioalteration textures found in terrestrial sub-seafloor volcanic rocks. Here, we use a suite of correlative, high-sensitivity, in situ chemical, and morphological analyses to characterize and re-evaluate these microalteration textures in Yamato 000593, a clinopyroxenite from the shallow subsurface of Mars. We show that the altered olivine crystals have angular and micro-brecciated margins and are also highly strained due to impact-induced fracturing. The shape of the olivine microalteration textures is in no way comparable to microtunnels of inferred biological origin found in terrestrial volcanic glasses and dunites, and rather we argue that the Yamato 000593 microtextures are abiotic in origin. Vein filling iddingsite extends into the olivine microalteration textures and contains amorphous organic carbon occurring as bands and sub-spherical concentrations

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Sep 2019

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