Oxygen fugacity in the Martian mantle controlled by carbon: New constraints from the nakhlite MIL 03346

Kevin Righter, H. Yang, G. Costin, R. T. Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Pyroxene structural data, along with analyses of titanomagnetite, fayalite and mesostasis of the new nakhlite Miller Range (MIL) 03346, define equilibration near 1 bar, 1100°C, and oxygen fugacity near the FMQ buffer. There is a clear progression of oxygen fugacity (fO2) in Martian meteorites from reduced Allan Hills (ALH) 84001 to intermediate shergottites to oxidized nakhlites. This trend can be explained by polybaric graphite-CO-CO2 equilibria in the Martian mantle. Shergottites would have formed at pressures between 1.2 and 3.0 GPa, and nakhlite parent liquids formed at pressures >3.0 GPa, consistent with geochemical and petrologic data for the shergottites and nahklites. Carbon buffering in the Martian mantle could be responsible for variation in fO2 in Martian meteorites (rather than assimilation or crustal interaction), as well as C-H-O fluids that could be the source of ∼30 ppb CH4 detected by recent spacecraft missions. The conundrum of an oxidized current mantle and basalts, but reduced early mantle during core-mantle equilibrium exists for both the Earth and Mars. A polybaric buffering role for graphite can explain this discrepancy for Mars, and thus it may not be necessary to have an oxidation mechanism like the dissociation of MgFe-perovskite to account for the oxidized terrestrial mantle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1709-1723
Number of pages15
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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