Roles of methane and carbon dioxide in geological processes on Mars

Goro Komatsu, Gian Gabriele Ori, Marco Cardinale, James M. Dohm, Victor R. Baker, David A. Vaz, Ryo Ishimaru, Noriyuki Namiki, Takafumi Matsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We discuss in this paper possible roles of methane and carbon dioxide in geological processes on Mars. These volatiles in the martian crust may migrate upward from their sources either directly or via various traps (structural, sedimentary, ground ice, gas hydrates). They are then likely emitted to the atmosphere by seepage or through diverse vent structures. Though gas hydrates have never been directly detected on Mars, theoretical studies favor their presence in the crust and polar caps; they could have played an important role as significant gas reservoirs in the subsurface. The martian gas hydrates would possibly be a binary system of methane and carbon dioxide occupying clathrate cavities. Landforms such as mud volcanoes with well-known linkage to gas venting are extensively distributed on Earth, and methane is the primary gas involved. Thus, identification of these landforms on Mars could suggest that methane and possibly carbon dioxide have contributed to geological processes of the planet. For example, we present a newly identified field in Chryse Planitia where features closely resembling terrestrial mud volcanoes occur widely, though with no observable activity. We also present results of a preliminary search for possible recent or present-day, methane-emission zones in the regions over which enrichments of atmospheric methane have been reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Gas hydrate
  • Mars
  • Methane
  • Mud volcano
  • Seepage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Roles of methane and carbon dioxide in geological processes on Mars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this