Dissolution Rates of Allophane With Variable Fe Contents: Implications for Aqueous Alteration and the Preservation of X-Ray Amorphous Materials on Mars

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Clays and Clay Minerals

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Recent measurements from Mars document X-ray amorphous/nano-crystalline materials in multiple locations across the planet. Despite their prevalence, however, little is known about these materials or what their presence implies for the history of Mars. The X-ray amorphous component of the martian soil in Gale crater has an X-ray diffraction pattern that can be fit partially with allophane (approximately Al O ⋅(SiO ) ⋅(H O) ), and the low-temperature water-release data are consistent with allophane. The chemical data from Gale crater suggest that other silicate materials similar to allophane, such as Fe-substituted allophane (approximately (Fe O ) (Al O ) ⋅(SiO ) ⋅3H O), may also be present. In order to investigate the properties of these potential poorly crystalline components of the martian soil, Fe-free allophane (Fe:Al = 0), Fe-poor allophane (Fe:Al = 1:99), and Fe-rich allophane (Fe:Al = 1:1) were synthesized and then characterized using electron microscopy and Mars-relevant techniques, including infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and evolved gas analysis. Dissolution experiments were performed under acidic (initial pH values pH = 3.01, pH = 5.04), near-neutral (pH = 6.99), and alkaline (pH = 10.4) conditions in order to determine dissolution kinetics and alteration phases for these poorly crystalline materials. Dissolution rates (r ), based on the rate of Si release into solution, show that these poorly crystalline materials dissolve approximately an order of magnitude faster than crystalline phases with similar compositions at all pH conditions. For Fe-free allophane, logr = –10.65–0.15 × pH; for Fe-poor allophane, logr = –10.35–0.22 × pH; and for Fe-rich allophane, logr = –11.46–0.042 × pH at 25°C, where r has the units of mol m s . The formation of incipient phyllosilicate-like phases was detected in Fe-free and Fe-rich allophane reacted in aqueous solutions with pH = 10.4 (steady-state pH ≈ 8). Mars-analog instrument analyses demonstrate that Fe-free allophane, Fe-poor allophane, and Fe-rich allophane are appropriate analogs for silicate phases in the martian amorphous soil component. Therefore, similar materials on Mars must have had limited interaction with liquid water since their formation. Combined with chemical changes expected from weathering, such as phyllosilicate formation, the rapid alteration of these poorly crystalline materials may be a useful tool for evaluating the extent of aqueous alteration in returned samples of martian soils. 2 3 2 1.3–2 2 2.5–3 2 3 0.01–0.5 2 3 0.5–0.99 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 diss diss diss diss diss 0 –2 –1


Allophane; Amorphous phases; Kinetics; Mars; Mineral dissolution; Weathering; XRD


Cosmochemistry | Geochemistry | Geology



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