Evidence for Adsorption of Chlorine Species on Iron (III) (Hydr)oxides in the Sheepbed Mudstone, Gale Crater, Mars

1T. S. Peretyazhko,1S. J. Ralston,1B. Sutter,2D. W. Ming
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JE006220]
1Jacobs, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, USA
2NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Ancient aquatic environments in Yellowknife Bay, Gale crater, Mars, could create favorable conditions for adsorption of chlorine compounds (perchlorate and chloride) on Fe (III) (hydr)oxides present in the Sheepbed mudstone, such as akaganeite and ferrihydrite. In this work, 5.2 mM ClO4− and 1.7 to 12 mM Cl− were adsorbed onto ferrihydrite and 5.2 mM ClO4− was adsorbed onto akaganeite at ultraacidic (pH 2–2.5), acidic (pH 3.8–4.5), and near‐neutral (pH 6.2–7.7) pH. Samples were characterized by evolved gas analysis and compared to the data collected for the Cumberland sample from the Sheepbed mudstone. Evolved gas analysis showed that ferrihydrite with 0.5–1 wt.% ClO4− adsorbed under ultraacidic and acidic conditions had a well‐resolved O2 peak at 306 °C due to the thermal decomposition of adsorbed ClO4−. All akaganeite samples with 0.5 wt.% adsorbed ClO4− had a weak peak at 312 °C tentatively assigned to decomposing perchlorate. Evolved gas analysis demonstrated that 0.5–2 wt.% Cl− adsorbed on ferrihydrite at ultraacidic and acidic pH was the main contributor to HCl evolved at >470 °C. Comparison with martian observations indicated that the temperature of the O2 peak originating from ClO4− adsorbed on ferrihydrite matched well with the thermal evolution of O2 from the Cumberland. Evolved HCl originating from Cl− adsorbed on ferrihydrite was within the temperature range of the high‐temperature HCl release from Cumberland (~770 °C). These observations suggest that ferrihydrite containing adsorbed ClO4− and Cl− could exist in the mudstone. Experimental results are consistent with adsorption at acidic pH < 4 environments through postdepositional water‐rock interactions of ferrihydrite with acid‐sulfate groundwater containing dissolved chloride and perchlorate.

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