Observational constraints on the process and products of Martian serpentinizationOPEN ACCESS 

Benjamin M. Tutolo and Nicholas J. Tosca

Science Advances
3 Feb 2023
Vol 9, Issue 5


“The alteration of olivine-rich rocks to serpentine minerals, (hydr)oxides, and aqueous hydrogen through serpentinization is long thought to have influenced the distribution of habitable environments on early Mars and the evolution of the early Martian hydrosphere and atmosphere. Nevertheless, the planetary importance of Martian serpentinization has remained a matter of debate. To constrain the process and products of Martian serpentinization, we studied serpentinized iron-rich olivines from the 1.1-billion-year Duluth Complex. These data indicate that serpentinized iron-rich olivine would have been accompanied by a fivefold increase in hydrogen production relative to serpentinized terrestrial mantle peridotites. In contrast to previous expectations, this style of serpentinization yields hisingerite as the dominant iron serpentine mineral at comparatively low temperature and pH, consistent with meteorite mineralogy and in situ rover data. The widespread occurrence of oxidized iron-bearing phyllosilicates in highly magnetized regions of the Martian crust supports the hypothesis that serpentinization was more pervasive on early Mars than currently estimated.”