Rolling ironstones from earth and mars: Terrestrial hydrothermal ooids as a potential analogue of martian spherules

Marcella Di Bella, Franco Pirajno, Giuseppe Sabatino, Simona Quartieri, Roberto Barbieri, Barbara Cavalazzi, Annalisa Ferretti, Roberto Danovaro, Teresa Romeo, Franco Andaloro, Valentina Esposito, Gianfranco Scotti, Alessandro Tripodo, Francesco Italiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

High-resolution images of Mars from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rovers revealed mm-size loose haematite spherulitic deposits (nicknamed “blueberries”) similar to terrestrial iron-ooids, for which both abiotic and biotic genetic hypotheses have been proposed. Understanding the formation mechanism of these haematite spherules can thus improve our knowledge on the possible geologic evolution and links to life development on Mars. Here, we show that shape, size, fabric and mineralogical composition of the Martian spherules share similar-ities with corresponding iron spherules currently forming on the Earth over an active submarine hydrothermal system located off Panarea Island (Aeolian Islands, Mediterranean Sea). Hydrothermal fluids associated with volcanic activity enable these terrestrial spheroidal grains to form and grow. The recent exceptional discovery of a still working iron-ooid source on the Earth provides indications that past hydrothermal activity on the Red Planet is a possible scenario to be considered as the cause of formation of these enigmatic iron grains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number460
JournalMinerals
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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