Spectroscopic and geochemical analyses of ferrihydrite from springs in Iceland and applications to Mars
Published:January 01, 2002
J. L. Bishop, E. Murad, 2002. "Spectroscopic and geochemical analyses of ferrihydrite from springs in Iceland and applications to Mars", Volcano–Ice Interaction on Earth and Mars, J. L. Smellie, M. G. Chapman
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Ferrihydrite samples were collected from a thermal spring and a cold stream in the Landmannalaugar region of Iceland. Chemical and spectroscopic analyses have been performed on the air-dried and fine-grained fractions of these samples. The ferrihydrite from the cold stream is a pure sample, containing small amounts of Ca, P and Si. The ferrihydrite from the thermal spring is a less pure sample, containing larger amounts of amorphous Si and P with some of the Si incorporated in the ferrihydrite structure. The spectral character of these Icelandic ferrihydrites is compared with those of synthetic ferrihydrites and other iron oxide/oxyhydroxide minerals. Ferrihydrite is characterized by a broad Fe3+ excitation band near 10 900 cm−1 (c. 0.92 μm), a strong Fe-O vibrational feature near 475 cm−1 (c. 21 μm), and multiple bands due to H2O and OH. Highly pure ferrihydrite has a pair of spectral bands near 1400 and 1500 cm−1 (c. 7 μm). Natural ferrihydrites frequently exhibit an extra band near 950–1050 cm−1 (c. 10 μm) that is attributed to Si-O bonds. Hydrothermal springs may have been present at one time on Mars in association with volcanic activity. Ferrihydrite formation in such an environment may have contributed to the ferric oxide-rich surface material on Mars.
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Volcano–Ice Interaction on Earth and Mars
This volume focuses on magmas and cryospheres on Earth and Mars and is the first publication of its kind to combine a thematic set of contributions addressing the diverse range of volcano-ice interactions known or thought to occur on both planets. Understanding those interactions is a comparatively young scientific endeavour, yet it is vitally important for a fuller comprehension of how planets work as integrated systems. It is also topical since future volcanic eruptions on Earth may contribute to melting ice sheets and thus to global sea level rise.
Papers included here are likely to influence the choice of sites for future Mars missions in exobiologically important areas. On Earth, snow and ice are widespread, not only in extensive icecaps but also as alpine glaciers at high elevations in tropical regions. By contrast, Mars today is an arid volcanic planet with only small polar ice-caps although an abundance of water is believed to be trapped in the cryolithosphere. It is also thought that the planet may have sustained extensive frozen oceans early in its history. The presence of a former hydrosphere, a cryosphere and coincident volcanism thus make Mars the likeliest prospect for the first discoveries of life away from Earth. Much research has assumed that terrestrial volcano-ice systems are plausible analogues for putative Martian examples, but until mankind finally sets foot on Mars, there is no simple test for that assumption.
Our hope is that the knowledge presented here will stimulate research among planetary geologists in this exciting, rapidly expanding field for many years to come.