Abstract

In the 23-km-diameter Haughton impact structure, Canadian High Arctic, in sulfate-rich bedrock, widespread hydrothermal sulfide mineralization occurred in breccias formed during the impact. The sulfides exhibit extreme sulfur isotopic fractionation relative to the original sulfate, requiring microbial sulfate reduction by thermophiles throughout the crater. This evidence of widespread microbial activity demonstrates that colonization could occur within the lifetime of a moderately sized, impact-induced hydrothermal system. The pyrite was subsequently oxidized to jarosite, which may also have been microbially mediated. The successful detection of evidence for microbial life suggests that it would be a valuable technique to deploy in sulfate-rich impact terrain on Mars.

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