Salinity-induced hydrate dissociation: A mechanism for recent CH4 release on Mars

M. E. Elwood Madden, S. M. Ulrich, T. C. Onstott, T. J. Phelps

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24 Scopus citations


Recent observations of CH4 in the Martian atmosphere suggest that CH4 has been added relatively recently. Several mechanisms for recent CH4 release have been proposed including subsurface biological methanogenesis, abiogenic hydrothermal and/or volcanic activity, dissociation of CH4 hydrates, atmospheric photolysis, or addition of organics via bolide impact. This study examines the effects of increasing salinity on gas hydrate stability and compares estimates of the Martian geothermal gradient to CH4 and CO2 hydrate stability fields in the presence of high salinity brines. The results demonstrate that salinity increases alone result in a significant decrease in the predicted hydrate stability zone within the Martian subsurface and may be a driving force in CH4 hydrate destabilization. Active thermal and/or pressure fluctuations are not required in order for CH4 hydrates to be the source of atmospheric CH4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL11202
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 16 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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