Water content in the Martian mantle: a Nakhla perspective

Franz A. Weis, Jeremy J. Bellucci, Henrik Skogby, Roland Stalder, Alexander A. Nemchin, Martin J. Whitehouse

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 1 June 2017


“Water contents of the Martian mantle have previously been investigated using Martian meteorites, with several comprehensive studies estimating the water content in the parental melts and mantle source regions of the shergottites and Chassigny. However, no detailed studies have been performed on the Nakhla meteorite. One possible way to determine the water content of a crystallizing melt is to use the water content in nominally anhydrous minerals (NAMs) such as clinopyroxene and olivine. During or after eruption on the surface of a planetary body and during residence in a degassing magma, these minerals may dehydrate. By reversing this process experimentally, original (pre-dehydration) water concentrations can be quantified. In this study, hydrothermal rehydration experiments were performed at 2 kbar and 700 °C on potentially dehydrated Nakhla clinopyroxene crystals. Rehydrated clinopyroxene crystals exhibit water contents of 130 ± 26 (2σ) ppm and are thus similar to values observed in similar phenocrysts from terrestrial basalts. Utilizing clinopyroxene/melt partition coefficients, both the water content of the Nakhla parent melt and mantle source region were estimated. Despite previous assumptions of a relatively dry melt, the basaltic magma crystallizing Nakhla may have had up to 1.42 ±0.28 (2σ) wt.% H2O. Based on an assumed low degree of partial melting, this estimate can be used to calculate a minimum estimate of the water content for Nakhla’s mantle source region of 72 ±16 ppm. Combining this value with values determined for other SNC mantle sources, by alternative methods, gives an average mantle value of 102 ± 9 (2σ) ppm H2O for the Martian upper mantle throughout geologic time. This value is lower than the bulk water content of Earth’s upper mantle (∼250 ppm H2O) but similar to Earth’s MORB source (54-330 ppm, average ∼130 ppm H2O).”