Jarosite dissolution rates in perchlorate brine

1Carey Legett IV, 2Brittany N. Pritchett, 1Andrew S. Elwood Madden, 3Charity M. Phillips-Lander, 1Megan E. Elwood Madden
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2017.06.031]
1University of Oklahoma, School of Geology and Geophysics, Norman OK 73019
2Oklahoma Geological Survey, Norman, OK 73019
3School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma Norman, OK 73019
Copyright Elsevier

Perchlorate salts and the ferric sulfate mineral jarosite have been detected at multiple locations on Mars by both landed instruments and orbiting spectrometers. Many perchlorate brines have eutectic temperatures < 250 K, and may exist as metastable or stable liquids for extended time periods, even under current Mars surface conditions. Therefore, jarosite-bearing rocks and sediments may have been altered by perchlorate brines. Here we measured jarosite dissolution rates in 2 M sodium perchlorate brine as well as dilute water at 298 K to determine the effects of perchlorate anions on jarosite dissolution rates and potential reaction products. We developed a simple method for determining aqueous iron concentrations in high salinity perchlorate solutions using ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry that eliminates the risk of rapid oxidation reactions during analyses. Jarosite dissolution rates in 2 M perchlorate brine determined by iron release rate (2.87 × 10−12 ± 0.85 × 10−12 mol m−2 s−1) were slightly slower than the jarosite dissolution rate measured in ultrapure (18.2 MΩ/cm) water (5.06 × 10−12 mol m−2 s−1) using identical methods. No additional secondary phases were observed in XRD analyses of the reaction products. The observed decrease in dissolution rate may be due to lower activity of water (ɑH2O = 0.9) in the 2 M NaClO4 brine compared with ultrapure water (ɑH2O = 1). This suggests that the perchlorate anion does not facilitate iron release, unlike chloride anions which accelerated Fe release rates in previously reported jarosite and hematite dissolution experiments. Since dissolution rates are slower in perchlorate-rich solutions, jarosite is expected to persist longer in perchlorate brines than in dilute waters or chloride-rich brines. Therefore, if perchlorate brines dominate aqueous fluids on the surface of Mars, jarosite may remain preserved over extended periods of time, despite active aqueous processes.

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