A window into atmospheric escape on early Mars provided by argon isotopes in a Martian meteorite

Chelsea D. Willett, William S. Cassata, Naomi E. Marks

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Available online: 23 April 2022


“Novel analytical approaches to determining the trapped 38Ar/36Ar ratio of gases contained within Martian meteorites are presented and applied to the Martian regolith breccia Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034 and paired stone NWA 11220. The resulting data indicate that extensive mass-dependent fractionation of atmospheric Ar may have occurred within 150 million years of planetary formation, ostensibly as a result of diffusion-limited hydrodynamic escape. The inferred fractional loss of Ar and lighter atmospheric constituents exceeds 50%. These data suggest that volatiles derived from planetary outgassing and/or impactors may dominate the present abundance of atmospheric Ar.”