Abstract

The search for water in our solar system is one of the primary driving forces for planetary science and exploration because water plays an important role in many geologic processes and is required for biologic processes as we currently understand them. Excluding Earth, Mars is the most promising destination in the inner solar system to find water, as it is undoubtedly responsible for shaping many geomorphologic features observed on the present-day martian surface; however, the water content of the martian interior is currently unresolved. Much of our information about the martian interior comes from studies of the basaltic martian meteorites (shergottites). In this study we examined the water contents of magmatic apatites from a geochemically enriched shergottite (the Shergotty meteorite) and a geochemically depleted shergottite (the Queen Alexandria Range 94201 meteorite). From these data, we determined that there was little difference in water contents between the geochemically depleted and enriched shergottite magmas. The water contents of the apatite imply that shergottite parent magmas contained 730–2870 ppm H2O prior to degassing. Furthermore, the martian mantle contains 73–290 ppm H2O and underwent hydrous melting as recently as 327 Ma. In the absence of plate tectonics, the presence of water in the interior of Mars requires planetary differentiation under hydrous conditions. This is the first evidence of significant hydrogen storage in a planetary interior at the time of core formation, and this process could support elevated H abundances in the interiors of other terrestrial bodies like the Moon, Mercury, Venus, large differentiated asteroids, and Earth.

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